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Big South Women's Soccer Championship Preview

November 8, 2014  Greensboro, N.C.  RSS
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Big South Women's Soccer Championship Preview

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The Liberty women's soccer team is headed to the title game of the Big South Championship for the second straight season. The defending champions will take on No. 3 seed High Point. The championship game will air live on ESPN3, Sunday, at 2 p.m.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Sunday's matchup will be broadcast courtesy of ESPN3 will be available on the women's soccer schedule/results panel. Evan Lepler will serve as the broadcast's play-by-play announcer, while Sari Rose will be the color analyst. Live stats powered by StatBroadcast will also be available.

Matchup Notes
- Liberty is meeting High Point for the sixth time in the Big South Championship, making the Panthers the Lady Flames' the most common opponent in postseason play. Liberty holds a 4-1 advantage over High Point in conference tournament games.

- The matchup will be the first time the two squads have met in the championship game. Liberty defeated the Panthers in the 2013 Big South semifinals, 4-1. Alanna Dunkle posted the final goal of the contest, while Brittany Aanderud had two assists.

- Liberty holds a 13-10-2 all-time record over High Point. The Lady Flames have won the last three meetings, outscoring the Panthers during the span, 8-1.

- The Lady Flames defeated the Panthers during the regular season, 2-0, thanks to a pair of goals by Baylee Gillmore. During that game, Van Noord broke the program record for career shutouts (Oct. 11).

- Current senior Helena Pereira had a memorable game against the Panthers during her freshman year. Playing in the 2011 Big South Championship quarterfinals, Pereira scored a golden goal in the 93rd minute to give the Lady Flames a 2-1 win at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.

Last Time Out for Liberty
The Lady Flames edged Campbell in the Big South Championship semifinals, 2-1, Friday afternoon, at Bryan Park Soccer Complex.

Liberty (14-4-1), the defending Big South Champion, returns to the championship game after capturing the conference title last season with a 5-0 win over Radford at CCU Soccer Stadium in Conway, S.C. (Nov. 10, 2013).

The Lady Flames received goals on Friday from freshman forward Jennifer Knoebel and junior forward Crystal Elmers. Senior Helena Pereira earned an assist on Knoebel's marker. Campbell's (8-8-3) Nicole Connolly posted the lone goal for the Camels.

Liberty has won three straight contests and has posted a 12-1-1 record since Sept. 11.

A Look at the Lady Flames
Brittany Aanderud paces the team in points (19) on five goals and a conference-leading nine assists.

Crystal Elmers leads the squad with seven goals. Like Aanderud, Alanna Dunkle and Madison Kauzlarich have five markers. Jennifer Knoebel has four goals and Rebeccah Smith has three. Knoebel is also second on the team and fourth in the conference with six assists. Jaime Bouffard and Baylee Gillmore each have two goals and four assists on the year. Maddie Boone, Sami Santos and Jordan Kestel round out Liberty's scoring on the season with one goal each.

Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord leads the conference in shutouts with nine. She is also first in the Big South in save percentage (.857) and goals-against average (0.63).

As a team, Liberty leads the Big South in assists (37), save percentage (.867), shutouts (10), fewest goals allowed (12) and goals-against average (0.61). The Lady Flames are also second in goals with 36.

Head coach Jessica Hain is in her sixth season with the program. Hain is coming off the most memorable season of her coaching tenure at Liberty, guiding the program to its fourth Big South Championship and first since 2005.

Boone was named the Big South Defensive Player of the Week for games played, Oct. 13-19. The weekly conference honor marked Boone's second this season and the program's fifth overall. Boone previously won the award on Aug. 25. Knoebel (Sept. 22) and Aanderud (Sept. 29) have each garnered Attacking Player of the Week honors this season, while junior defender Alex Mack was named Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 6.

Liberty Lands 8 All-Conference Honors; Van Noord Voted Defensive Player of the Year
Along with claiming the Big South regular season championship (third all-time), eight Liberty women's players earned all-conference honors, this afternoon, as voted by the conference's coaches. Holly Van Noord headlines Liberty's group of honorees, earning Big South Defensive Player of the Year and becoming the first player in program history to garner the award.

In addition to Van Noord, junior midfielder Brittany Aanderud and senior defender Maddie Boone were selected to the conference's first team, while senior forward Alanna Dunkle and junior midfielder Rebekah Page picked up spots on the second team. Forward Jennifer Knoebel and defender Jordan Kestel were voted to the all-freshman team, and senior forward Helena Pereira garnered all-academic team honors.

Aanderud and Van Noord Break Program Records
Junior midfielder Brittany Aanderud recorded two assists in Liberty's 8-0 over UNC Asheville on Oct. 1, setting a new program record with 21 helpers. The mark surpassed the previous record held by Nancy (Davis) White (1998-2001). Aanderud now has 24 career assists and nine on the season

On Oct. 11, goalkeeper Holly Van Noord earned her 21st career shutout in a 2-0 win over High Point. Van Noord surpassed the previous mark of 20 set by former teammate Karen Blocker (2008-12). The netminder heads into the semifinals with 23 shutouts, accomplishing the feat in just two active seasons.

Liberty's All-Time Marks in Big South Championship
The Lady Flames are 20-8-6 all-time in the Big South Championship, capturing titles in 2000, 2001, 2005 and 2013. Liberty is currently second in the conference in tournament wins and is tied for second all-time with High Point with four championships. Radford holds the all-time record with five titles.

Sunday's matchup marks Liberty's seventh finals appearance, the most Big South finals appearances in conference history.

The Lady Flames' most common opponents in the tournament has been High Point (4-1) and Radford (4-1). The Lady Flames have also played, Charleston Southern (2-1-1), UNC Asheville (2-0-2), Coastal Carolina (2-0), Winthrop (0-1-1), Campbell (1-0), Gardner-Webb (0-0-1), Longwood (0-0-1) and former conference members UMBC (0-3), Elon (2-1), Howard (1-0), Towson (0-1) and Birmingham Southern (1-0).

Lady Flames and the Big South Championship
The Lady Flames captured their fourth Big South Championship by winning the 2013 Big South Women's Soccer Championship. Liberty's other titles came in 2000, 2001 and 2005.

With their appearance in 2013, the Lady Flames have played in six conference finals, posting a 4-1-1 record. Liberty made three straight trips to the Big South final from 1999 to 2001.

Liberty fell in its first appearance in the title game in 1999, 3-2, in overtime to Elon. The following year, the Lady Flames claimed their first championship with a 2-0 victory over Elon and then made it back-to-back titles with another 2-0 title-game win over the Phoenix in 2001.

Liberty returned to the title game in 2005 and added its third trophy since 2000, with a 3-0 victory over UNC Asheville.