Junior Geena Swentik
Squaring off with the Charlotte 49ers for the first time in 19 years, the Liberty women's soccer team looked to begin the year with a victory for the second straight season. However, the 49ers had other plans, Friday evening at Transamerica Field. Despite stellar goalkeeping play by redshirt freshman Holly Van Noord in her Liberty debut, Charlotte connected on a golden goal with just over two minutes remaining in the contest's second overtime for a 1-0 victory. Midfielder Amanda Jones posted the lone goal for the 49ers, with Nicole Anderson and Maddie Kiebel earning an assist. Van Noord concluded her first collegiate game with 13 saves. Charlotte goalkeeper Alex Kubrick collected five saves. The 49ers outshot the Lady Flames, 21-17, in the matchup, while holding a 4-3 advantage in corner kicks. Charlotte appeared to be the aggressor in the opening period, outshooting the Lady Flames, 6-3. VanNoord recorded five saves in the first 45 minutes. Kubrick collected two stops on shots by Megan Warner and Rebekah Page. The 49ers best chance for a goal came with 2:28 left in the opening period. Nicole Anderson blasted a shot from 25 yards out, but VanNoord was there to push the ball left and out of harm's way. The netminder's fifth save of the game set up a scoreless first period. Liberty intensified its attack in the second period, controlling the action for the majority of the half's opening 15 minutes. The Lady Flames nearly lit up the scoreboard in the 57th minute. Warner ripped a shot off the Charlotte's goal crossbar and bounced into the 6-yard box, just in front of the goal line. Geena Swentik immediately followed up the attempt, but sent her shot over the net. VanNoord continued to be a thorn in the side of the 49ers offense, stopping three more shots over a 15-minute span. Brittany Aanderud nearly became the Lady Flames' hero in the 77th minute. The sophomore pushed a strong shot from 35-yards out, only to have it ricocheted off the far post. Van Noord recorded three clutch saves in the final 10 minutes of regulation, including one with 38 ticks left to send the game into overtime. In the extra period, Dawn Elmers nearly picked up the golden goal just before the 95th minute, but once again the ball bounced off the crossbar. About three minutes later, Charlotte's Perri Bonner had a near miss on the other end, as she pushed the ball just wide of the Liberty goal. A Van Noord save in the final 29 ticks of the period set up the second overtime, ultimately leading to the 49ers' golden goal. Liberty returns to action on Friday, playing host to Old Dominion. The Lady Flames are looking for back-to-back wins over the Conference USA member, after defeating the Lady Monarchs for the first time in program history, last season, 1-0. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.