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Liberty Scores Shutout Over Radford, 4-0
Coming off their first loss since Sept. 18 this past Sunday, the Liberty Lady Flames got back into the win column on Friday, blanking fellow NorPac opponent Radford, 4-0, at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
With their sixth win in their last seven games and their second victory over the Highlanders this season, the Lady Flames pushed their record to 9-5 overall (2-1 NorPac). Radford's overall record drops to 1-12 (1-3 NorPac).
With the temperature dropping as the sun dipped below the Blue Ridge Mountains, Liberty's offense heated up just 3:56 into the contest. Hannah Jones took the Lady Flames' first penalty corner opportunity and rolled the ball into the top of the circle. Elly Chipman received the pass and dumped it to the right side to Hannah Doherty, who promptly smacked the ball back across the circle. The ball rolled toward Sarah Gipe, but the freshman faked a shot and let the ball roll past her to Helen Doolittle. Doolittle took the pass and buried it into the back of the cage for her fourth goal of the season and an early 1-0 Liberty lead.
The Lady Flames notched their second goal of the game during the 31st minute. Natalie Barr fed the ball from the left side across the circle to Gipe. The Pennsylvania native tapped the ball past Radford goalie Sidney Encarnacion for her team-leading 10th goal of the year.
The score remained 2-0 at the end of the opening frame. Liberty's defense, led by Megan Johnson, Jones and Emily Dinsmore, stymied the Highlanders' offense in the first half, giving up just two shots and one penalty corner. The Lady Flames tallied seven shots and two penalty corners in the opening stanza.
Early on in the second half, back-to-back penalty corners for Radford were shut down by the Liberty defense and the score remained 2-0.
The Lady Flames were not able to convert on several scoring opportunities throughout the first 25 minutes of the second half. Gipe, Abbey Basom, Morgan Mummau and Erin Dombach each recorded shots during that span, but were unable to push it into the goal.
Liberty's offensive pressure paid off in the 61st minute. Doherty dribbled down the right side of the field and into the Radford circle. She spun to her left and drilled a reverse shot through the Highlanders' defense and into the far side of the goal. Doherty's second goal in as many games and fourth of the season gave Liberty the 3-0 advantage.
Liberty's final goal of the game came less than two minutes later. Dombach found an open Ashlee Krulock in front of the net. The freshman to freshman connection proved successful as Krulock scored her first goal of her career to give the Lady Flames the 4-0 lead.
The Lady Flames' defense preserved the shutout in the final minute of play. Liberty goalie Mallory Cuccio turned away a Katelyn Adkins shot and Natalie Barr recorded a defensive save on the final play of the game, off a Radford penalty corner.
Liberty topped the Highlanders in shots for the game, 15-5, and held the slight edge in penalty corners, 5-4.
Cuccio recorded two saves for her second shutout of the season for the Lady Flames. Radford's Encarnacion tallied six saves, while surrendering four goals. Jillian Lates substituted for Encarnacion and played the final 7:38.
The shutout was Liberty's third of the season and first at home.
The Lady Flames continue conference play on Tuesday against the Longwood Lancers. Game time at the Liberty Field Hockey Field is slated for 4:30 p.m.