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Lady Flames Look to Extend Win Streak Against Pitt

September 6, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Riding a three-game win streak and its best six-game start in program history, the Liberty women's soccer team returns to action, Friday, playing host to BIG EAST member Pittsburgh at Osborne Stadium. The contest marks the first-ever meeting between the Lady Flames and the Panthers. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

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A Look at Liberty
The Liberty women's soccer team extended its win streak to three games, Sunday afternoon, defeating Old Dominion at the ODU Soccer Complex, 1-0. The victory over the Lady Monarchs was the program's first since the series began in 2005. Prior to Sunday's contest, Old Dominion held a 5-0 advantage in the series against Liberty.

Liberty scored its lone goal on a Lauren Stell penalty kick after a foul inside the box in the 59th minute. With the tally, Stell notched her second goal of the season, tying her with freshman forward Crystal Elmers for the team lead in goals (2) and points (5).

Liberty goalkeeper Karen Blocker finished the contest with three saves and recorded her third-straight shutout. The Bowie, Md., native now has four shutouts on the season and 15 for her Liberty career, tying her with Natalie Mayer (2001-04) for the program's all-time record.

With the win, Liberty moved to 4-2 on the season, marking the best six-game start in the program's 24-year history. Prior to this year, Liberty had not recorded more than three wins in its first six games of a season.

Before besting ODU, the Lady Flames picked up a 2-0 win over American last Friday. Liberty's two goals came in the second half, with senior Lauren Stell and junior Megan Warner finding the net for the Lady Flames. Freshmen Brittany Aanderud and Crystal Elmers were credited with assists.

Stell's pair of game-winning goals against the Eagles and Lady Monarchs earned her Big South Attacking Player of the Week honors on Tuesday.

While Stell and Elmers lead the team in points and goals, Aanderud has been a key distributor for the Lady Flames in the opening six games. The freshman midfielder leads the conference in assists with three on the year.

In addition to holding a share of the shutout record, Blocker has 272 career saves, needing just 25 to surpass Paula Barringer (296, 1989-91) for No. 2 on the program's all-time list. The redshirt senior currently has a 1.50 career goals-against average and is on pace to set a new school record. The current record is 1.64, held by Sonia Rodriguez (2000-05) and Blocker's former teammate Ashley Nyholt (2007-10).

As a team, Liberty leads the Big South in assists (7), fewest goals allowed (4), goals-against average (0.67) and shutouts (4). The Lady Flames are also No. 2 behind UNC Asheville in total goals (8) and points (23).

Pittsburgh at a Glance
Pitt enters Friday's contest touting a 4-3 record after dropping back-to-back contests, last week. The Panthers most recently fell to Penn State on Sunday, 3-0. Prior to the setback, the BIG EAST member suffered a 1-0 overtime loss to Miami (Fla.), last Friday.

Pitt's victories have come against Eastern Michigan (2-1), Robert Morris (2-1), St. Bonaventure (2-1) and Duquesne (3-1). The Panthers' other defeat on the season occurred against Michigan (1-0, Aug. 19).
Morgan Sharick leads the team in goals this season with three, while Roosa Arves is pacing the Panthers in points (8) and assists (6). Goalkeeper Nicole D'Agostino has started all seven contests in between the pipes, this season. The netminder has a goals-against average of 1.27 along with 26 saves (.743 save percentage).

Looking Ahead
Liberty will receive a one-week break from game action before returning to the field, next Friday, when it hosts George Washington. The Lady Flames squared off with the Colonials for the first time last season, picking up a 2-1 win at Mount Vernon Field (Sept. 23, 2011). Goalkeeper Karen Blocker reached a milestone in the contest, recording her 200th career save. Game time for the rematch at Liberty's Campus East Athletics Fields is set for 7 p.m.