Fueled by three goals from sophomore midfielder Agueda Moroni, the Liberty field hockey team defeated Old Dominion, 3-1, on Friday afternoon in BIG EAST action at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
Moroni's hat trick, the second of her career, came in the first 31:52 of the game and allowed Liberty to take a 3-0 lead. The Monarchs scored right before intermission before a second half that saw no more scoring.
With the victory, Liberty (4-5) improves to 2-1 in BIG EAST competition, while Old Dominion (4-6) falls to 1-2 in conference.
The Monarchs drew three penalty corners in the game's first eight minutes but only managed one shot on cage (Danielle Grega). Following ODU's third short corner, Liberty advanced the ball across midfield, and Moroni dribbled into the visiting circle.
Moroni ripped a forehanded shot past Monarchs' goalkeeper Kealsie Robles for her eighth goal of the season. The Argentina native's tally at the 7:43 mark put Liberty ahead, 1-0.
Both teams held firm defensively over the next 20 minutes of play until Moroni struck again on the Lady Flames' only short corner of the opening stanza. Following Summer Parker's insertion to stick stopper Pippa Best, Moroni collected Best's pass and fired a shot that appeared to be heading towards the right half of the net.
The ball clanged off an Old Dominion defender and past Robles, giving Moroni her second marker of the day and Liberty a 2-0 lead in the 28th minute of play.
In the 31st minute, the Lady Flames' defense fended off the Monarchs' fifth penalty corner attempt of the day. Liberty sophomore netminder turned aside Kristen Vick's shot attempt to maintain a two-goal lead.
Just under 90 seconds later, Moroni completed the hat trick. The sophomore took a pass from Abby Julius in the right side of the circle, pivoted and blasted a backhanded shot through the defense, past Robles and into the left corner of the cage.
Moroni's third goal of the day and 10th of the season staked Liberty to a 3-0 advantage at 31:52. Her first career hat trick came on Oct. 28, 2016 against Temple in Lynchburg. With the goal, she also matched her goal output for the entire 2016 season.
ODU's only goal of the contest came in the 34th minute from leading scorer Erin Huffman on the Monarchs' sixth short corner of the half. Julia Van Dorsten and Cameran Nery-Strickland assisted on Huffman's goal that sent the visitors into halftime trailing 3-1.
In the second half, Liberty outshot ODU, 4-3, and held a 4-0 edge in penalty corners. However, the Lady Flames' efforts only yielded two total shots on the four scoring opportunities. Old Dominion only put one shot on frame in the second half, coming from the stick of Huffman.
Schaefer (four saves) moves to 4-5 on the season with the victory, while Robles (two saves) falls to 4-6. Redshirt freshman Lacey Frazier (one save) replaced Robles in net starting at the beginning of the second period.
Overall, ODU held a slight edge in shots (11-10) and penalty corners (6-5) on Liberty. Moroni paced the home side with six shots (five on goal), while Huffman and Carrie Sensenig both recorded two shots for the visiting team.
The Lady Flames will be back on the pitch on Sunday at No. 13 Wake Forest (5-5, 2-2 ACC). Match time is pegged for 1 p.m. at Kentner Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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