Sarah Gipe and the Lady Flames will host Richmond on Wednesday in an NCAA Field Hockey Play-In game at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
2014 NCAA Field Hockey Championship Bracket
Two-time defending NorPac champion Liberty will host Atlantic 10 champion Richmond in a NCAA Field Hockey Championship Play-In game at the Liberty Field Hockey Field on Wednesday.
The winner of Wednesday's NCAA Play-In game will advance to the first round of the NCAA Field Hockey Championship and face No. 1 national seed North Carolina. The Round of 16 contest will be played at the Tar Heels' Francis E. Henry Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Saturday.
Wednesday's play-in contest will mark the fourth time Liberty has hosted an NCAA Championship event on its campus. Liberty hosted an NCAA Women's Soccer Play-In game in 2000 and the NCAA East Regional in wrestling in 2008 and 2011.
The Liberty Lady Flames field hockey squad earned its way into the tournament by claiming the NorPac Championship title on Saturday, defeating No. 4 Stanford, 1-0, in the NorPac Championship title game.
Liberty enters the NCAA Field Hockey Championship with a 13-7 record, carrying a four-game winning streak into the "Big Dance."
Liberty boasts one of the top offenses in the country, ranking fourth nationally in goals per game (3.67) and third in scoring average (3.65).
Junior forward Sarah Gipe leads the Lady Flames' attack with 43 points (18 goals, seven assists), while Serena Barr (four goals, eight assists) and Ashlee Krulock (11 goals, eight assists) share the team lead in assists. Bethany Barr ranks third on the team with 17 points (seven goals, three assists) to round out Liberty's top offensive weapons.
Goalkeeper Mallory Cuccio leads the Liberty defense, notching a career-best four shutouts and a personal single-season best 13 wins. As a team, the Lady Flames are surrendering 1.64 goals per game and 9.45 shots per game, while Liberty's offense is scoring 3.60 goals per game and 16.5 shots per contest.
Richmond (12-9) enters the contest following a 1-0 overtime victory over UMass in yesterday's Atlantic 10 Championship title game. The win gave the Spiders their eighth Atlantic 10 Championship title in program history.
A-10 Offensive Player of the Year Rebecca Barry scored the decisive goal in the 77th minute of the championship contest. The senior leads the Spiders with 34 points (15 goals and four assists), has recorded six of the team's 12 game-winning goals and is responsible for nearly 25 percent of the team's shots this season (62).
Junior Amy Cooke leads Richmond with five assists and ranks second on the team with 11 points (three goals).
The strength of the Spiders' team is their defense, as Richmond ranks No. 13 in the country in goals against average (1.35) and No. 6 in shutouts per game (0.38). Overall, seven of Richmond's 12 victories in 2014 have been shutout wins.
The Wednesday contest will be the first-ever matchup in field hockey between the Lady Flames and the Spiders.
The winner of the match will move on to face No. 1 national seed North Carolina, who lost to Syracuse in the semifinals of the ACC Championship earlier this weekend. Six-time NCAA Champion North Carolina is making its 31st appearance in the field in the last 33 seasons and posted a 4-0 win at Liberty on Oct. 19.
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