The Liberty women's soccer team opens the 2016 season against one of the top teams in the country on Friday, when the Lady Flames host No. 4 Virginia.
The Cavaliers are 12-0 all-time against Liberty, with all 12 previous meetings taking place at Klockner Stadium. Liberty's series history against Virginia includes 10 regular-season meetings and a pair of NCAA Tournament first round matchups (2001 and 2005). The two squads most recently met on Aug. 22, 2012, with the eighth ranked Cavaliers earning a 3-0 victory. Virginia's No. 4 ranking is its highest when facing Liberty in the regular season.
How to Follow the Lady Flames A free live video stream will be available courtesy of the Liberty Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network. Live stats powered by StatBroadcast will also be available by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results panel on LibertyFlames.com.
Quick Kicks - Liberty closed out 2015 with a 13-8-1 mark overall and an 8-2 record in conference play. The Lady Flames also posted eight conference victories for the third straight season, concluding Big South regular-season play with an 8-2 record. Liberty punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years, squaring off once again with No. 3 seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated the Lady Flames in the first round, 3-0 (Nov. 13).
- Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord enters the 2016 season with 33 career shutouts. The mark ties her with former Radford netminder Che' Brown (2010-13) for the all-time Big South record. Van Noord already owns the program record. In addition, Van Noord currently holds the program record for best goals against average (0.78) and needs three more saves to become the third Lady Flame goalkeeper to reach 300 in her career.
- Liberty's roster includes 12 newcomers, including 10 freshmen – Molly Andres, Kristen Darragh, Gabrielle Farrell, Mickayla Green, Julia Guarini, Kayleigh Kardos, Sierra Lam, Kailey Neef, Anna Roach and Ashley Sannicolas.
- Among the newcomers are a pair of transfers – Caroline Boone (Wofford) and Isabella Habuda (Louisville). Boone is the younger sister of former Lady Flames' midfielder/defender Maddie Boone (2011-14), who helped guide Liberty to its fourth Big South Championship in 2013. Meanwhile, Habuda brings insight into Friday's game, having played against Virginia as a member of the Cardinals, last season. The Cavaliers won the contest at Klockner Stadium, 1-0.
A Look at Virginia Virginia enters Friday's season opener as the No. 4 team in the country according to the NSCAA Coaches Preseason Poll. In 2015, the Cavaliers were one game away from going to the College Cup. After a scoreless tie in the quarterfinals match versus Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights advanced on penalty kicks, 7-6. Virginia concluded the season with a 19-1-3 record.
Liberty Sweeps BSC Preseason Honors After capturing its record-tying fifth Big South championship, last year, the Liberty women's soccer team has swept the Big South preseason awards heading into the 2016 season. Junior forward Jennifer Knoebel garnered Preseason Attacking Player of the Year, while redshirt senior Holly Van Noord earned Preseason Defensive Player of the Year for the third straight season. The Lady Flames were also voted the preseason favorite for the third consecutive year and eighth time in program history, garnering 97 of 100 possible points in the coaches' poll.
2016 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll Rk Team (first-place votes) - Points 1. Liberty (8) - 97 2. High Point (1) - 90 3. Campbell (1) - 70 4. Longwood - 65 T5. Radford - 48 T5. UNC Asheville - 48 7. Charleston Southern - 45 T8. Gardner-Webb - 36 T8. Winthrop - 36 10. Presbyterian College – 15
Norman at the Helm On April 21, Nate Norman became as Liberty's seventh head women's soccer coach in program history.
Norman comes to Liberty following a successful four-year run as the head women's soccer coach at Western Michigan. During his time with the Broncos, Norman posted a 44-27-14 record (60.0 winning percentage) and led Western Michigan to Mid-American Conference titles in 2013 and 2015.
Norman earned MAC Coach of the Year honors in 2015 after leading Western Michigan to its second conference title in three seasons. The Broncos tied a program record with 14 victories en route to a 14-4-4 season.
Norman was also named the NSCAA Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year where Western Michigan ranked No. 7 in the final NSCAA Great Lakes Region coach's poll.
Looking Ahead The Lady Flames will head to Tennessee this weekend for a meeting with the Volunteers on Sunday. Last season, Liberty hosted the SEC member, playing to a scoreless draw at Osborne Stadium (Aug. 28, 2015). Game time for the rematch at Regal Soccer Stadium is slated for 5 p.m.
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