Despite holding No. 1 North Carolina below its season average in shots, the Lady Flames fell to the visiting Tar Heels, 4-0, on Sunday afternoon at Liberty Field Hockey Field.
The opening 17 minutes of the contest proved to be a defensive struggle, with neither team recording a shot.
In the 18th minute, Liberty applied pressure on the North Carolina defense when Bethany Barr zipped the ball into the circle. Lady Flames' forward Sarah Gipe flicked the shot into the back of the net. However, the goal was disallowed, due to Gipe illegally hitting the ball with the round side of the stick.
The visitors used the Liberty miscue to their advantage, pushing the counter attack down the field. Loren Shealy found the back of the net for her eighth goal of the season, pushing the ball past Mallory Cuccio for the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute of play.
Following an attacking penalty corner for the Tar Heels in the 23rd minute, Nina Notman put the ball into the back of the net for her eighth goal of the season and the 2-0 North Carolina lead.
The Lady Flames were granted a penalty corner at the end of the first half. The corner was blown dead after the shot by Bethany Barr grazed the foot of a fellow teammate.
Liberty's offense picked up momentum early in the second stanza. The Lady Flames notched three shots in the opening 12 minutes of the second half. Two of the three shots came off a Liberty penalty corner in the 47th minute; however North Carolina's Shannon Johnson denied the chance for the Lady Flames to cut into the lead.
In the 51st minute, Notman had the wide open goal, bidding for her second goal of the game, until Liberty's Hannah Jones dove across the line to deny Notman's chance.
However, the second half belonged to the visiting Tar Heels, netting two more goals, including one more by Notman to extend the lead to 4-0.
North Carolina held the advantage in shots, 11-5, including an 8-2 shots on goal margin. The Tarheels also claimed the penalty corners category, forcing nine penalty corners to Liberty's four.
With the loss, the Lady Flames drop to 9-7 overall, while North Carolina improves to 13-2 on the season.
Liberty continues its three-game homestand on Thursday against NorPac foe Pacific. With a win Thursday, the Lady Flames would clinch their third consecutive NorPac East title in as many years. The contest is slated to begin at 4 p.m. at Liberty Field Hockey Field.