Liberty women's soccer kicked off the 2017 Big South Championship with a thrilling, double overtime quarterfinal matchup against Gardner-Webb, Friday evening. In their final game at Osborne Stadium this season, Liberty's Sarah Erickson sent Flames' fans home with a goal in the 104th minute for a 2-1 victory and a trip to the Big South Championship semifinals.
"For a good portion of the game, we were controlling the pace, but we lost our rhythm at times and that allowed Gardner-Webb to come back in it," Wedemeyer added. "However, as the game wore on we felt that we could get the second goal. It took longer than what we expected, but I am happy we are moving on."
Looking for the golden goal and avoiding a shootout, Liberty had a corner kick near the midway mark of the second overtime. Taking a free kick, Kayleigh Kardos delivered a ball into the box, where Erickson placed a header inside the near left post for her first goal of the season and send Liberty to the semifinals next Friday at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C.
"We have so many players that are great in the air and I just wanted to help any way I can," Erickson said. "Kayleigh played the best ball she could and I was just in the right spot at the right time."
Liberty's backline did an exceptional job throughout the game of keeping pressure off goalkeeper, Melody Jayroe. The Lady Flames allowed the Runnin' Bulldogs just six shots throughout the match. For the game, Liberty had 15 shots including eight on goal and five during overtime.
Both teams had a quiet start to the game, as only two shots were attempted in the first 24 minutes of action. Liberty capitalized on its first quality look in front of goal. Devon Jones scored her third goal of the season. Jordan Kestel moved past a defender, making her way down the left flank, before sending the ball into the box. Jones delivered a header from 10-yards out to the far right post to make it 1-0 in Liberty's favor in the 25th minute.
Once Liberty got on the scoreboard, its offense began to pick up and control possession. The Lady Flames attempted five shots in the first half with three coming after the first goal in the final 20 minutes of the half.
By controlling possession in the midfield, Liberty kept pressure off Jayroe in the first half, as she only had to come up with one save. The Lady Flames' held the Runnin' Bulldogs without a shot for the final 35 minutes of the first half.
After Liberty opened up on the attack in the second half, Gardner-Webb was able to even the score 14 minutes into the half. After being awarded a free kick from 25-yards out, Stina Kleppe put a strike on goal, only to see Jayroe a hand on the ball. Jayroe's hand save deflected the ball off the crossbar to Annie Ross who converted the rebound for 1-1 tie in the 59th minute.
Liberty did get five shot attempts in the second half. Four of the shots were on goal, but the Lady Flames were unable to convert a second goal during regulation.
In the final minute, Liberty's Kayleigh Kardos came close to ending the contest with a shot from 25-yards towards the far left post, but Gardner-Webb's Keely Brown reached up to make a save at the top of the post and send the game into overtime. The Lady Flames continued to stay on the attack in the first overtime, attempting four shots.
Liberty now awaits the winner of the Big South quarterfinal match between the No. 3 seed Longwood and the No. 6 seed Charleston Southern. Kickoff at Bryan Park is set for 7 p.m., next Friday and will be streamed on the Big South Network.
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