Looking for its first win of the 2016 season, the Liberty women's soccer team squared off with UMBC at Retriever Soccer Park, Thursday afternoon. While the Lady Flames dictated the pace of the game by outshooting their opponent, 26-6, the Retrievers managed to find the net in the first period, securing the 1-0 victory.
With the defeat, Liberty falls to 0-3 on the year, while UMBC improves to 2-1 in 2016.
UMBC's lone goal came from the foot of forward Nikki Saad, while midfielder Jessica Hopkins contributed on the assist.
In addition to its shooting advantage, Liberty also held a 6-3 edge on corner kicks. Lady Flames goalkeeper Holly Van Noord played the entire 90 minutes in goal, finishing with one save. Leah Roth remained in between the posts for the Retrievers during the contest, fending off Liberty's constant offensive pressure with a 13-save performance.
Liberty came out aggressive in the opening 15, taking eight shots during the span, including five on goal. Freshman forward Gabrielle Farrell led the charge with a pair of shots, as Roth thwarted all five of the Lady Flames' attempts on the Retrievers' net.
UMBC started to find some momentum in the 28th minute. Hopkins aimed a shot at the Liberty net, but Van Noord was there to stop it for her lone save of the day.
Just over a minute later, Hopkins struck again, this time finding Saad outside of the 18-yard box directly in line with the Lady Flames' goal frame. Saad received the pass from Hopkins and buried a shot in the lower left corner for the 1-0 lead in the 29th minute.
Despite outshooting the Retrievers, 15-4, in the opening period, the Lady Flames were unable to garner the equalizer, allowing UMBC to retain its one-goal advantage heading into halftime.
In the second period, the Lady Flames continued to apply pressure, holding an 11-2 advantage in shots.
Junior forward Isabella Habuda nearly put Liberty on the board in the 50th minute. The Louisville transfer received a ball near midfield and broke away from the UMBC defense. Roth came out to meet Habuda in the one-versus-one situation, deflecting the forward's shot and preventing the equalizer.
During the 77th minute, junior forward Jennifer Knoebel, who made her 2016 debut after missing the first two contests, attempted to ignite the scoreboard for Liberty. The Big South Preseason Attacking Player of the Year connected on a header following a Habuda corner kick, but the shot ricocheted off the post.
The Lady Flames remained determined throughout the contest, firing five shots in the final six minutes. After two blocked shots by the Retriever defense and one attempt that sailed wide, freshman Sierra Lam and junior Baylee Gillmore each rattled off shots at the UMBC net. Roth stopped Lam's attempt just before the 89th minute and prevented Gillmore from tying the game with 36 ticks left to set up the 1-0 final.
Liberty returns home to host Appalachian State on Sept. 2. The contest is slated for 4 p.m. and will stream live on the Liberty Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network.