Liberty will play in the BIG EAST title game on Sunday after a 3-1 victory over ODU on Friday.
No. 2 seed Liberty bested No. 3 seed Old Dominion, 3-1, in a BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship semifinal matchup on Friday afternoon at Lennon Family Field.
With the win, Liberty (8-10) advances to the 2017 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship title game on Sunday, where the Lady Flames will face No. 1 seed UConn (18-0) in a rematch of last year's championship match. ODU's season ends at 8-10.
"Our defensive effort today was outstanding. We were also able to generate quality attack and put away our chances when they presented themselves," said Liberty Field Hockey Head Coach Nikki Parsley. "We played with poise, passion and energy. I am extremely proud of how the girls carried themselves."
Agueda Moroni, Moniek van Aarle and Victoria O'Keeffe scored for the Lady Flames. ODU leading goal scorer Erin Huffman scored with just over five minutes left in the contest to settle the final score at 3-1.
The Lady Flames took control in the early stages of the contest, drawing three short corners in the first five minutes. Freshman Jill Bolton drew the first penalty corner, and Moroni's shot attempt was blocked but gave Liberty another corner.
On the second attempt, ODU goalkeeper Kealsie Robles saved a hard shot by Bolton with her left pad. However, Liberty drew another corner in the ensuing action, and the Lady Flames converted to seize an early 1-0 lead.
Following an insert from Summer Parker and a stick stop from Cassidy Bremner, Moroni deposited a shot into the right corner of the goal cage. The sophomore's 19th goal of the year made it 1-0 in favor of Liberty at 4:50.
Moroni's marker moved her into a tie for the most goals (19) in a single season in Liberty field hockey program history with Natalie Barr (2013) and Sarah Gipe (2014).
Moroni played a part in the Lady Flames' second goal as well, later in the opening half. The Argentina native entered the circle on the far left side, juggling the ball in the process. Once she settled the ball on the turf, she zipped a pass in front of the cage to van Aarle. Van Aarle knocked the ball into the back of the goal for her third goal of the season, extending the Liberty lead to 2-0 at 25:54.
Old Dominion only managed one shot in the first half. In the 29th minute, Mia Fucci sent a blast that Allison Schaefer turned aside to keep the Lady Flames' lead at two goals.
Liberty led, 2-0, at intermission, holding advantages in shots (4-1) and penalty corners (4-0).
Early in the second half, the Lady Flames fended off two Monarchs short corners in the first seven minutes.
Liberty freshman O'Keeffe gave the second-seeded Lady Flames a three-goal lead in the 47th minute. The New Zealand native took a pass, turned sharply to her right and fired a shot from the left half of the goal cage. O'Keeffe's fourth tally of the year staked Liberty to a 3-0 lead.
The Monarchs applied heavy pressure in the closing 20 minutes, outshooting the Lady Flames, 7-1, during that stretch. ODU finally got on the board at 64:51 on a goal from Huffman, her 12th of the year, on a crossing pass from Danielle Grega. Huffman's goal trimmed the Liberty lead to 3-1.
The Monarchs put two shots on cage over the final five minutes of the match and drew a penalty corner in the final minute, but the Liberty defense and goalkeeper Schaefer stood tall.
Schaefer (8-10) made six saves in a winning effort. ODU's Kealsie Robles (4-7) made one save while allowing two goals in 35 minutes of action, before giving way to Lacey Frazier for the second half (one goal allowed, two saves).
ODU outshot Liberty, 10-9, while the Lady Flames held a 5-3 edge in short corners earned. Moroni and Bolton paced Liberty with three shots apiece, while Anouk Vandersteen recorded a match-high six shots for the Monarchs.
Sunday's BIG EAST Championship title game will get started at 1 p.m. from Lennon Family Field. The Lady Flames will be looking to avenge a loss in last year's BIG EAST title game and a 2017 regular-season loss to the Huskies, 3-0 on Oct. 14.
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