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Liberty Blanks UNC Asheville, Saturday
The Liberty women's soccer team picked up its fourth straight win, Saturday afternoon, defeating Big South opponent UNC Asheville at the Campus East Fields, 2-0. In the midst of its longest win streak of the season, Liberty is now 4-0 when playing on the turf field.
With the win, the Lady Flames continue their unprecedented start to the season, improving to 8-3 and 2-0 in the Big South). Liberty also begins the conference slate 2-0 for the second consecutive year. Asheville falls to 2-8 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.
Senior defender Lauren Stell and sophomore forward Geena Swentik netted Liberty's pair of goals. While freshman forward Jaime Bouffard's three-game scoring streak came to an end, the Oswego, N.Y., native assisted on both markers. Sophomore defender Maddie Boone was also credited with a helper on the goal by Stell.
Goalkeeper Karen Blocker earned her sixth shutout of the season, adding to her Liberty career shutout record. The redshirt senior now has 17 shutouts during her career.
The contest began with five total shots in the opening 14 minutes. Liberty took three shots during the span, resulting in a pair of saves for Asheville goalkeeper Heather Muller. At the opposite end, the Bulldogs recorded two attempts, but Blocker was there to make the stop on each.
In the 16th minute, Boone came up the right side of the field and blasted a shot from just outside the box, which ricocheted off the cross bar. Bouffard picked up the loose ball on the left side, dishing it across the mouth of the goal to Stell, who tapped it in from five yards out. Stell's third goal on the season gave Liberty a 1-0 lead.
Later in the 27th minute, the Lady Flames nearly lit up the scoreboard again. With junior Megan Warner on the right side, the forward sent a crossing pass directly in front of the net to sophomore Helena Pereira. The Bristol, Conn., native leaped into the air and deflected the ball toward the net, but Muller snatched the ball just in time, preventing Liberty from scoring again before halftime.
In the second half, Brittany Aanderud tried to up the ante in the 56th minute, firing a shot at the Asheville, goal. Once again, Muller made the stop for her sixth save of the contest.
The Bulldogs answered with two shots of their own during the next six minutes of play. Shenny Lenhart made both attempts for Asheville, resulting in two more Blocker saves.
Liberty's attack intensified in the final 15 minutes. During the 77th minute, Swentik took a shot on goal, which was scooped up by Muller. Just over a minute later, the sophomore had a chance at redemption when Muller deflected a shot by Bouffard. Swentik picked up the loose ball and fired it into the net, ultimately leading to the 2-0 final. The forward's marker was her second of the season.
Liberty outshot Asheville in the contest, 21-9, while the Bulldogs held a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks. Muller played the entire contest for the visitors, finishing with eight saves. Blocker closed out the contest with four stops.
The Lady Flames hit the road for the first time in nearly three and half weeks, Thursday, continuing conference play against Coastal Carolina. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.