Fueled by two goals apiece from Agueda Moroni, Jill Bolton and Summer Parker, the Liberty field hockey team bested Temple, 6-2, Friday at Howarth Field. The win gives the Lady Flames the No. 2 seed for next weekend's BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship.
Liberty (7-9) closes BIG EAST play with a 5-2 mark to finish runner-up in the league's regular-season standings for a second straight season, while Temple (4-13) drops to 0-7 in the conference.
"I am incredibly pleased with the effort level and energy of the entire team. We were able to fully execute the game plan, attack from the back and generate a substantial amount of offense," said Liberty Field Hockey Head Coach Nikki Parsley. "Today's victory gives us momentum going into the North Carolina game on Sunday and the BIG EAST Tournament next week."
No. 1 UConn (7-0 BIG EAST) is the No. 1 seed for the BIG EAST Championship, followed by No. 2 seed Liberty (5-2), No. 3 seed Old Dominion (5-2) and No. 4 seed Providence (4-3). The Lady Flames owned the tiebreaker over ODU by virtue of a head-to-head victory earlier this season.
Liberty's relentless attack on Friday evening recorded a season-high 32 shots, the fourth most in a single game in program history. Sophomore goalkeeper Allison Schaefer (three saves) broke the Liberty field hockey program record for career saves with her first save of the evening. The Millersville, Pa., native entered the contest tied with Mallory Cuccio (206 saves, 2012-15) for the most in program history but surpassed Cuccio with a save in the 33rd minute.
Moroni's first goal of the game in the sixth minute set the tone for the Lady Flames and provided the visitors a 1-0 lead. After a Temple defender blocked Moroni's first shot, Moroni remained composed and buried a backhanded shot in the top left corner of the cage.
The Owls drew their first penalty corner of the contest and converted in the 10th minute to even the match at 1-1. Sarah Keer scored her fourth goal of the season, assisted by Maddie Berton and Maiyah Brown. The redshirt senior's goal found the right half of the cage.
Liberty junior Abby Julius set up the team's next goal in the 15th minute. Julius split the defense and entered the center of the circle, feeding a pass over to Bolton. Bolton gathered Julius' pass and slotted a backhanded shot past Owls' goalkeeper Maddie Lilliock and into the far right side of the goal. The Souderton, Pa., native's first marker of the day provided Liberty a 2-1 lead at 14:35, an advantage its would not relinquish again.
As the Lady Flames continued to bring the ball inside the Temple 25-yard-line, they drew their first penalty stroke of the season following their sixth penalty corner of the match. On that short corner attempt, the Owls were called for another penalty, giving Liberty a penalty stroke.
Moroni beat Lilliock with a hard shot to the lower left corner of the cage. The sophomore's goal, her 16th of 2017, put the Lady Flames up, 3-1 at 27:46.
Temple drew two short corners in the final 90 seconds of the half but did not convert. Liberty led, 3-1, at intermission and held a 17-7 advantage in shots.
Bolton scored at the 39:44 mark to extend the Liberty lead to 4-1. After Moroni's penalty corner shot was saved by Lilliock, Bolton kept possession inside the arc and blasted a backhanded shot through a heavy crowd that found the back of the cage.
Parker scored the Lady Flames' final two tallies at 53:00 and 56:48. Her first marker came following her insertion on a penalty corner. Her pass found stick stopper Cassidy Bremner, who gently passed to Moroni. Parker crept in behind the defense on the left post and one-timed Moroni's sweep into the cage.
Parker scored in the 57th minute, her third of the season, on a rebound following an Alynn Richardson shot that hit the post, pushing the Liberty lead to five goals (6-1).
The Temple Owls scored their second short corner goal of the day in the 64th minute. This time, Keer found inserter Maddie Merton on the left post, and Merton notched her fourth tally of the year, settling the final outcome.
Liberty outshot Temple, 32-10, and also earned 12 penalty corners, compared to seven for the Owls. Moroni tallied a game-high 11 shots, the second most in a single game in Liberty field hockey history. Bolton and Richardson followed with seven and four shots, respectively.
Temple forward Kathryn Edgar had four shots, while the Owls recorded a pair of defensive saves (Dani Batze and Nellie Doyle) in Friday's match.
Schaefer improved to 7-9 with the win, while Lilliock fell to 1-9.
Liberty will close out its regular-season schedule Sunday at 1 p.m., when the Lady Flames welcome No. 6 North Carolina (12-4, 3-3 ACC) to Liberty Field Hockey Field.
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