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Liberty Athletics Title IX 40th Anniversary Celebration - Women's Soccer
In conjunction with the Big South's year-long initiative, LibertyFlames.com will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX through a series of stories and videos which spotlight each of Liberty's women's athletics teams, one per month throughout the 2012-13 academic year. This month, the spotlight will be on the women's soccer team.
Playing its inaugural season in 1988, the Liberty women's soccer team was the first female sport founded during the university's Division I era. The Lady Flames were coached by Roy Yarborough in its first year, finishing with a 4-6-1 record.
The program struggled to gain footing in its first 11 seasons, averaging four wins during the span. Under the guidance of James Price, Liberty began to trend upward beginning in 1999. That year, the Lady Flames posted their first double-digit win total in a season, concluding the campaign with a 10-9 ledger. Liberty also reached the Big South Championship finals during that season, falling to Elon 3-2 in overtime.
Forward Nancy Davis (1998-2001) was a key to the Lady Flames' success heading into the turn of the century. A four-time Big South first team all-conference honoree, Davis led the Lady Flames to back-to-back conference championships in 2000 and 2001. The four-year letterwinner still sits atop the Liberty record books in goals (43), assists (20) and total points (106).
The Lady Flames posted a program-best 15 wins in 2000, capturing its first-ever Big South Championship with a 2-0 win over Elon (Oct. 28, 2000). Liberty earned its first bid to the NCAA Tournament, defeating Tennessee Tech, 1-0, in a play-in game before falling to ACC power Virginia.
Price's squad concluded its trilogy of championship clashes with Elon on Nov. 10, 2001, defeating the Phoenix once again by a score of 2-0 to earn its second Big South championship.
Liberty was crowned Big South regular-season champion for the first time in 2002. However, the Lady Flames did not hoist the tournament trophy again until 2005, becoming the first team in conference history to win three Big South championships. Heading into the finals on Nov. 6, 2005 as the No. 3 seed, Liberty defeated No. 1 UNC Asheville, 3-0, thanks to goals by Tanya Payne and Mandee Judd.
Current Liberty head coach Jessica Hain took over the program in 2008. After the Lady Flames finished eighth in her inaugural season, the team executed one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in program history, earning its second Big South regular-season championship in 2009. Hain's efforts and leadership did not go unnoticed, as she was named Big South Coach of the Year.
Years of Competition: 25 (1988-Present)
Total Wins: 157
Conference Championships: 3 (Big South: 2000, 2001, 2005)
• CoSIDA Academic All-District: 3
• CoSIDA Academic All-Region: 2
• CoSIDA Academic All-Americans: 1
• All-Region: 2
• All-State: 16
• Players of the Year: 2
• All-Conference: 46
Total Number of Participants: 220
Title IX Anniversary – Top Liberty Women's Soccer Moments
Sept. 10, 1988 – Liberty Plays its First-Ever Women's Soccer Game
Liberty played its first-ever women's soccer game on the road at Mary Washington, losing 12-0. Just over two weeks later, the Lady Flames picked up the program's first-ever victory, defeating Sweet Briar, 1-0, on Sept. 26, 1988.
Oct. 21, 2000 – First Women's Soccer Big South Championship
Liberty won its first-ever Big South Women's Soccer Championship, as the No. 2 seeded Lady Flames defeated No. 1 seed Elon, 2-0. On Nov. 3, Liberty defeated Tennessee Tech, 1-0, in a play-in game to advance to the NCAA Tournament, setting a program record for most wins in a single season with 15. The Lady Flames fell in the opening round to Wake Forest on Nov. 8, 6-1. The following year, Liberty captured its second Big South championship, once again defeating Elon, 2-0 (Nov. 10, 2001). The Lady Flames were defeated by Virginia in the first round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament (Nov. 16), marking the end of a stellar career for senior leader Nancy Davis.
Nov. 6, 2005 – Liberty Wins Third Big South Championship
Liberty won its third and most recent Big South championship on Nov. 6, 2005, defeating UNC Asheville, 3-0. With the victory, the Lady Flames became the first Big South program to capture three championships. Liberty had four players make the Big South All-Tournament team, including senior midfielder Rachel Bendzolwicz, who was named MVP.
Nov. 1, 2009 – Liberty Goes From Worst to First
After finishing the 2008 season eighth in the conference standings with a 3-12-2 record, Liberty turned things around the following year, going 9-7-3 and winning the Big South regular-season title. Head coach Jessica Hain's efforts did not go unnoticed that year, as she was named 2009 Big South Coach of the Year.
Previous Liberty Athletics Title IX Features
September - Volleyball