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Liberty to Host Villanova and VCU this Weekend
Riding a four-game winning streak, the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team will host a pair of non-conference games this weekend at the Liberty Field Hockey Field. Liberty plays the Villanova Wildcats on Saturday at 1 p.m as a part of Liberty's Homecoming Weekend festivities. The Lady Flames then welcome the VCU Rams on Sunday for a 2 p.m. matchup.
Nick Pierce, of the Flames Sports Network, had a chance to catch up with head coach Jodi Murphy and freshman midfielder Sarah Gipe to discuss the season to this point and take a look at this weekend's slate of games.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats for both contests will be available on LibertyFlames.com by clicking the live stats link on the field hockey schedule/results page.
A Look at the Lady Flames
Liberty ran its program-best winning streak to four games this past weekend with a pair of victories to improve its record to 7-4 overall (1-1 NorPac). The Lady Flames notched their second shutout of the year with a 5-0 win over Saint Louis on Saturday, followed by a 4-1 victory over Missouri State on Sunday.
On Saturday, the Lady Flames built a 4-0 halftime lead against the Billikens, thanks to goals from Gipe, Mercedes Cox and two from Hannah Doherty. Gipe tacked on her second goal of the contest in the second half to give Liberty the 5-0 win. Doherty, Natalie Barr and Abbey Basom each tallied an assist as Liberty's five goals set a single-game program record. Mallory Cuccio, making her first start in goal for Liberty, did not have to make a save as the Lady Flames defense held Saint Louis to just one shot. For the game, Liberty recorded 21 shots and eight penalty corners, while the Billikens tallied one shot and two penalty corners.
Against Missouri State, Liberty built a 4-0 lead for the second straight day and went on to win 4-1. Four different players found the back of the cage for the Lady Flames. Helen Doolittle, Basom, Megan Johnson and Hannah Jones each scored for Liberty, while Barr, Gipe and Johnson each recorded an assist. Cuccio saved eight shots and improved her record to 2-0. The Lady Flames outshot Missouri State, 22-13, and earned 13 penalty corners to the Bears nine.
Gipe paces Liberty and the NorPac with nine goals,. She ranks 19th in the country with 0.82 goals per game. Barr and Basom rank second and third on the team with five and four goals, respectively. Barr and Jones each have three assists to lead the team.
Brooke Morley has started nine games in goal for Liberty, compiling 48 saves and a save percentage of .727. Cuccio tallied eight saves, while surrendering one goal in her first two collegiate starts.
The Lady Flames rank 11th in the country in penalty corners per game with 8.64. Liberty also ranks in the top 25 in goals against average (22), scoring margin (21) and save percentage (21).
A Look at Villanova
The Wildcats enter Saturday's matchup with a 6-6 overall record (1-2 BIG EAST). The last time out, Villanova dropped a 2-1 contest to crosstown opponent Saint Joseph's on Wednesday.
This will be Liberty's second matchup this season against a team from the BIG EAST. The Lady Flames downed the Georgetown Hoyas, 4-1, on Sept. 1.
On Wednesday, Saint Joseph's jumped out to a two goal advantage midway through the first half. A Villanova goal by Olivia Maggitti cut the lead to one with just over five minutes left in the first half, but that is the closest the Wildcats would get, falling by a 2-1 final score.
Leah High leads the Wildcats with six goals, while Jessica Swoboda is second with four. Kayla Kenney paces the team with five assists.
Goalie Alex Diekmann has played in all 12 games, including nine starts for Villanova. She has allowed 31 goals and tallied 86 saves.
A Look at VCU
For the season, VCU boasts an 8-2 record. The Rams split their last two contests, defeating Hofstra, 6-2, and falling to No. 2 North Carolina, 6-1.
Arialle Hess scored four goals and Kelsey Scherrer chipped in with two to lead VCU to the convincing victory over Hofstra. The Rams jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but Hofstra scored two unanswered goals to trim the lead to one. VCU put the game away in the second half with three goals in the final 10 minutes.
Against the Tar Heels, VCU took the early 1-0 lead, as Scherrer tallied a goal off of a penalty corner. North Carolina reeled off the next six goals in a row and ran away with the 6-1 win.
Scherrer tops the Rams in goals (10) and assists (6) for a total of 26 points. The senior is ranked eighth in the country in points per game and seventh in goals per game.
In goal, Megan Botteri has surrendered an average of 1.76 goals per game and has a save percentage of .780. Botteri's .780 save percentage is good for 10th in the nation.
The Lady Flames return to action on Oct. 12, with a contest against NorPac opponent Radford. Game time at the Liberty Field Hockey Field is slated for 6 p.m.