Liberty's Jennifer Knoebel delivered her first goal of the season, and it proved to be the game-winner in Liberty's 1-0 win on the road at Presbyterian. With the victory, the Lady Flames improve to 7-5-3 and 5-0-1 in the Big South.
"Winning on the road is never easy, especially when it's a midweek game and the weather conditions we dealt with today," head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. "To come on the road and get a good result before heading home to prepare for Senior Day is a good feeling."
The win ties Liberty's school record for fewest goals allowed (1) in the team's first six Big South games. Liberty also ties the school record for the best start in conference play when Liberty went 5-0-1 throughout the entire Big South schedule.
Early in the second half, Knoebel was rewarded a penalty kick after being fouled inside the box, and the senior delivered her first game-winning goal of the season. With the goal, Knoebel moves into sole possession of third place on Liberty's all-time points leaders with 57 career points. Liberty outshot Presbyterian, 16-9, while attempting six shots on goal. Liberty recorded its sixth shutout of the season and fifth during conference play.
"It was definitely a relief to finally get my first goal of the season," Knoebel said. "Penalty kicks are all mental so I didn't think about it too much and just read the goalkeeper.
The win is Liberty's third straight 1-0 victory for the Lady Flames as Liberty's goalkeeper, Melody Jayroe, improves her goals against average to 0.16 during Big South play. The Lady Flames' backline allowed just one shot on goal for the game. Liberty posted a season high in corner kicks this season with eight attempts.
Liberty quickly jumped on Presbyterian's backline, putting up three shots in the first four minutes of action. As Liberty was able to maintain possession, the Lady Flames forced three corner kicks in the first 13 minutes of action. Aly Hill came close to scoring in the fourth minute off a header on the left post, but her attempted was blocked by a wall on the post. In her first start of the season, Mickayla Green delivered a beautiful ball from the backline to the far-left post for a Gabrielle Farrell header that went just above the crossbar. Abigail Persson nearly scored Liberty's first goal in the 41st minute off a shot from the top of the box but was unable to curl the shot inside the left post.
As Liberty threw numbers forward, Presbyterian looked to catch Liberty off the counter-attack. As the Blue Hose maintained possession on offense at times on Liberty's side of the field, Liberty's defense allowed just three shots in the first half.
Liberty ended the first half with five corner kicks, the most the Lady Flames have attempted in a first half this season and tying the most in a half this year. Despite outshooting Presbyterian, 7-3, in the first half, the game remained scoreless at the break.
"It is always good to get the job done when you are away from home," Knoebel added. "We did a good job of connecting on offense today but we still have room to improve in certain areas."
After being unable to capitalize in the first half, Liberty's offensive pressure quickly benefited in the second half, forcing a penalty kick in the 50th minute. After carrying the ball inside the box, Knoebel was fouled and rewarded with Liberty's first penalty kick of the season. The senior stepped up with a strike in the lower right-90 to give the Lady Flames a 1-0 lead.
Presbyterian looked to attack, attempting six shots following Knoebel's goal, but Liberty's backline remained firm, keeping pressure off Jayroe. Even though she only came up with one save, it could not have come at a more crucial time as Presbyterian's Kelsey Yeager had a break away opportunity with 30 seconds left in the game. Yeager was able to go one-on-one with Jayroe at the top of the box but Jayroe made a diving save to prevent the goal.
"We certainly created a lot of chances and luckily we were able to squeak by with a win," head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. "We had a big save by Mel (Jayroe) at the end but that is Big South soccer. You can't take anybody for granted."
Liberty will return home for its final home regular-season contest. The Lady Flames will host Charleston Southern on Saturday at Osborne Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m., and before the game, the program will honor its eight seniors for their contributions to the program.