Looking to bounce back from a 1-0 loss to Cal State Fullerton, Friday, the Liberty women's soccer team returned to Titan Stadium on Sunday, squaring off with UC Riverside. Unfortunately for the Lady Flames, the high octane offense displayed by the Highlanders led to a 3-1 victory for the Big West member.
With the defeat, Liberty starts the season 0-2 for the first time since the 2008 season. Riverside moves to 1-1 on the year.
Fullerton, Calif., native and senior midfielder Brittany Aanderud posted Liberty's lone goal with 20 seconds left in the contest. The marker gave Aanderud 52 points for her collegiate career, surpassing Aimee Luurtsema (2008-11, 51) for fourth place in program history.
Brittany Mata, Marriah Perez and Tyler Cunningham accounted for Riverside's three goals. Blanca Barrio led the Highlanders with two assists, while Dainelle Lopez and Tayler Dragoo each had one.
Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord finished the contest with 13 saves, tying her career high, which she set two years to the day (Aug. 23, 2013) in her first collegiate match against Charlotte. Highlanders' netminder Elizabeth Silas finished the contest with three saves.
Riverside outshot Liberty, 24-8, including 16-2 on goal. The Highlanders also held a 13-2 advantage on corner kicks.
The Highlanders applied pressure early with three shots on goal in the opening 13 minutes. Van Noord made all three stops, but the fourth time was the charm for Riverside. Barrio delivered a ball from the midfield to Mata, who placed the ball inside the lower far post, giving the Highlanders the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.
Liberty began to find momentum in the final 15 minutes of the period. Receiving her first collegiate start, freshman midfielder Alyssa Hill fired a 10-yard shot from the right side of the goal frame. However, Silas stretched out to make the stop in the 32nd minute.
Just over two minutes later, Aanderud directed a free kick at the Riverside net. Silas once again punched the shot out of the goal frame, keeping Liberty off the board.
The Highlanders swung momentum back in their favor with another goal in the 43rd minute. Lopez booted an attempt from outside the 18-yard box, which deflected off the hands of Van Noord. Perez scooped up the rebound on the right side and sent a shot into the back of the net for a 2-0 halftime lead.
Riverside outshot Liberty in the first period, 11-5, including 9-2 on goal. The Highlanders also held a 3-1 advantage on corner kicks.
The Highlanders continued to attack in the second period, setting up opportunities while garnering 10 corner kicks during the frame. Van Noord thwarted Riverside's first four attempts in the stanza, which included a leaping save in the 60th minute off a Hailey Maxwell header.
Riverside picked up its third goal off a corner kick in the 81st minute. Dragoo sent the ball into the box on the set piece, allowing Cunningham to chip it into the back of the net from close range. Cunningham's goal put the Highlanders up 3-0.
Aanderud broke up the potential shutout with her first goal of the year and 14th of her career. The senior dispossessed a Riverside defender and lobbed the ball over Silas from inside the 18-yard box. Aanderud's goal lit up the scoreboard for the Lady Flames with 21 ticks remaining, leading to the 3-1 final.
Liberty will make its 2015 debut at Osborne Stadium when it hosts Tennessee for the first time in its home opener, Friday. The Lady Volunteers roster includes freshman midfielder Katie Cousins, who was the 2013-14 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year, playing center midfield for Jefferson Forest High School. Game time is slated for 3 p.m.