The No. 3 seed Liberty Lady Flames came back from a 1-0 deficit to defeat No. 7 seed Radford, 2-1, in the semifinals of the Big South Women's Soccer Tournament Friday evening at Eagle Field on the campus of Winthrop University.
The Lady Flames have won six-straight games – tying a school record – and advance to the conference final for the first time since 2001. Liberty will play No. 1 UNC Asheville, a 3-1 winner over Charleston Southern, Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.
It was defensive battle from the beginning, as both teams combined for just seven shots in the first half. Liberty had four shots and Radford three, and at one point, the game did not feature a shot for more than 15 minutes, including a 30 minute drought for the Highlanders.
Radford's Jonita Hooker broke the scoreless tie with a header into the corner of the net at the 54:15 mark to give the Highlanders a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Liberty freshman Amy Oberlin (F, Ada, Mich.) notched a header of her own to tie the game at 56:09. The goal was Oberlin's fifth of the season.
The Lady Flames took the lead for good at 60:54 when Brittney Bench (So., F, Orefield, Pa.) tallied her second goal of the tournament.
Liberty goalkeeper Sonia Rodriguez (Sr., Fairfax, Va.) made one save, while Radford keeper Lauren Bergsten had three saves.
Liberty out-shot Radford, 12-8. It was the second meeting between the two teams in the Big South Women's Soccer Tournament, and second in the semifinals. Liberty won the first meeting 1-0 in 1999 to advance to the championship. Liberty will make its fourth championship game appearance on Sunday and will look to win its third title.
"I'm very proud that we were able to come back from being a goal down. Not many teams are able to do that," stated Liberty head coach James Price. "I give Radford a lot of credit for coming out right at us with a lot of intensity and pressure."
With the win, Liberty moves to 11-6-2 on the season.
"I think it was a fantastic Radford versus Liberty rivalry game. Both teams played hard and it was a game that deserved to go into overtime," commented Radford head coach Ben Sohrabi. "We scored first and had a chance to hold on but we didn't. I give Liberty a lot of credit and I think they are the best team in the tournament."
Radford, which was making its first semifinal appearance for the first time since 2002, ends its season at 7-13-0.