Liberty began its 2017 Big South title defense with a shutout win over Gardner-Webb. The Lady Flames' senior midfielder, Isabella Habuda, scored her first goal of the season while freshman goalkeeper, Melody Jayroe, recorded a shutout in her first Big South contest.
The Lady Flames outshot the Runnin' Bulldogs 20-7 throughout the match, led by Habuda with a game-high five shots. Ten different players attempted a shot for Liberty as the team improves to 3-5-2 on the season while Gardner-Webb drops to 2-8.
"I thought we played fairly well throughout 90 minutes," head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. "Credit to the girls because any Big South competition is going to be tough and we were able to pull it out."
Liberty came out pressing on offense, applying heavy pressure on Gardner-Webb's backline. By maintaining possession, Liberty was able to attempt the first three shots of the game. Liberty had chances on target with Abigail Persson and Devon Jones attempting shots on goal within a three minute span early in the 1st half.
Liberty continued to attack and came close to delivering the first goal of the game in the 30th minute. Aly Hill delivered a great ball from the midfield into the box where Farrell was able to get a shot on goal but GWU's Keely Brown came up with a save. Liberty's midfield and backline did an exceptional job of limiting Gardner-Webb's offense as the Runnin' Bulldogs attempted just one shot in the 1st half. Liberty's goalkeeper, Jayroe, did not have to come up with a save in the first as the Lady Flames outshot GWU 7-1.
"I think we read the game well today and we were able to put ourselves in a position to make plays," Wedemeyer added. "Our backline tackled well and that kept Gardner-Webb from taking too many chances."
After going into halftime scoreless, Liberty continued to apply heavy pressure on Gardner-Webb's backline and early in the second half the Lady Flames would capitalize. In the 50th minute, Habuda would deliver her first goal of the season off an assist from Devon Jones to give Liberty the 1-0 lead. Jones was able to carry the ball all the way into the box on the right side and delivered a pass right in front of goal for Habuda to capitalize.
"We had a hard work of practices and I think that translated to the field today," Habuda said. "We had so many chances and we were playing so well so I am happy we were able to put a goal away to come with the win."
Attempting a late comeback, the Runnin' Bulldogs looked to provide the equalizer but Liberty's backline remained firm to pull out the shutout.
Liberty will continue its Big South home stand to open conference play as they host High Point on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Osborne Stadium.