The No. 19 James Madison Dukes topped the No. 25 Liberty Lady Flames, 3-1, in Saturday's season opener at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
JMU junior Miranda Rigg scored twice, and junior Ashley Gippe tallied a goal in the victory for the Dukes. Liberty's goal came off the stick of sophomore Agueda Moroni in the 67th minute.
With the win, JMU improves to 1-0 on the young season, while Liberty falls to 0-1.
Liberty drew the first penalty corner of the day in the 4th minute, but Moroni's shot sailed high. JMU began building up its attack over the next several minutes, starting with a shot from Rigg that clanked off the right post in the 12th minute. In the ensuing minutes, Liberty goalkeeper Allison Schaefer fended off shots from Rigg, Melanie Kusakavitch and Lisa Lejeune, while Hannah Hall sailed a shot high at the 15:03 mark.
Gippe scored at 17:08 to put the visitors ahead, 1-0. James Madison's Hall sent a pass into the Lady Flames' arc that Gippe collected on the right side. Gippe turned and ripped a backhanded strike past Schaefer and into the top left corner of the goal cage.
After only one shot in the next 13-plus minutes between the two teams, the Dukes capitalized on their third penalty corner of the afternoon. Rigg inserted the ball to Hall, who fed a pass over to Florien Sondern in the circle. Sondern sent a pass back to Rigg on the near post, and Rigg one-timed a shot into the goal. Her first tally of 2017 put JMU ahead, 2-0, in the 32nd minute and sent the Dukes into intermission with a 2-0 advantage.
In the early stages of the second half, James Madison struck again. Lejeune zipped a pass through the Liberty defense, onto the stick of Rigg. Rigg gathered the ball and sent a backhanded shot from just inside the arc into the top right corner of the net. Rigg's second marker of the day bumped the Dukes' lead to 3-0 at the 38:58 mark.
Liberty drew consecutive short corners in the 50th and 51st minutes but was unable to convert on the opportunities while only getting off one shot.
The Lady Flames finally broke through with just over three minutes to play in the game. After thwarting JMU's outlet efforts, Moroni drove up the left side of the field, entered the circle and sent a forehand shot past Dukes' goalkeeper Sara Kraeutler. Moroni's first goal of the year brought the score to 3-1 in favor of JMU with 3:20 left on the clock.
Less than a minute later, Liberty earned its fifth penalty corner of the match. However, junior Abby Julius' shot sailed wide. James Madison was able to kill the rest of the clock, sealing the 3-1 triumph.
JMU outshot Liberty, 17-7, in the match, holding a 10-5 edge in shots on goal. Kraeutler (1-0) made four saves for the Dukes in a winning effort, while Schaefer (0-1) tallied seven stops in the loss. Rigg (six shots) and Lejeune (four shots) paced the Dukes' attack, while Moroni (five shots) and Julius (two shots) were the only two Lady Flames to record shots in the contest.
Liberty will return to the pitch on Friday night at No. 11 Michigan. Match time is slated for 7 p.m. at Phyllis Ocker Field Hockey Field in Ann Arbor, Mich.
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