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Liberty's Comeback Effort Falls Short Against No. 6 UNC, Sunday

October 29, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Parker notched an assist in Sunday's game against No. 6 UNC.

Parker notched an assist in Sunday's game against No. 6 UNC.

The Liberty field hockey team's comeback attempt came up short in a 6-4 loss to No. 6 North Carolina in Sunday's regular-season finale at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.

The Lady Flames wrap up their regular-season slate at 7-10, while the Tar Heels improve to 13-4 overall.

Despite falling into a 4-0 hole in the game's first 22:50, Liberty did not go quietly. The Lady Flames scored late in the first half and on two occasions cut the UNC lead to two goals, but the Tar Heels held on for a 6-4 win.

Malin Evert paced the North Carolina attack with four goals, while Liberty received two goals from Agueda Moroni. Evert's first goal came in the fourth minute on a rebound of her own shot on UNC's first penalty corner of the day, putting the Tar Heels ahead, 1-0, at 3:20.

In the first half, the Tar Heels applied constant pressure on the Lady Flames' defense, attempting 13 shots before Liberty recorded a shot. They converted on their second short corner of the day during the 11th minute to go up, 2-0.  A Liberty defender blocked Evert's shot, sending the ball into the air and toward the goal. However, the ball still found the back of the net for a goal to push the visitors' lead to two goals. 

The Tar Heels tacked on two more goals in the 15th and 23rd minutes (Meredith Sholder and Evert) to lead, 4-0. Evert's second goal of the day came from the left baseline, as the midfielder fired a low shot into the right side of the cage from an awkward angle.

Liberty finally generated its first scoring opportunity in the 32nd minute. After Evert received a green card, the Lady Flames were rewarded with a penalty stroke. Moroni calmly buried a shot into the right side, her 17th goal of 2017, to lower the Liberty deficit to 4-1 at 31:24. The Argentina native's penalty stroke goal marked her second in as many games, after Liberty did not garner a stroke over the first 15 games of the year.

UNC led, 4-1, at halftime, holding command advantages in shots (13-1) and penalty corners (3-0).

The sixth-ranked Tar Heels struck first in the second stanza on Evert's fourth marker of the game and ninth of the year. The junior ripped a forehanded shot from inside the right side of the arc into the left half of the cage to provide UNC its second four-goal advantage of the afternoon, 5-1, at 36:31.

Liberty answered with two goals of their own to make it 5-3. The Lady Flames' Ashley Dykema scored on a penalty corner in the 48th minute, her first tally of the year. Dykema tipped in a ball from Moroni past UNC's Alex Halpin to bring the score to 5-2.

Just over four minutes later, Moroni scored her second goal of the day. Following a Summer Parker insertion on a penalty corner, Dykema set up Moroni for a shot.

Moroni aimed for the right side of the cage and scored. The sophomore's second goal of the day and 18th of the season brought Liberty within two (5-3) at 51:46. Moroni is one goal shy of tying the single-season program record, currently held by Natalie Barr (19 goals, 2013) and Sarah Gipe (19 goals, 2014).

North Carolina extended its advantage to three goals, 6-3, at the 60:56 mark on a short corner goal from Sholder, her second of the match and sixth of the season. The UNC forward scored on a direct hit following an insert from Gab Major.

Freshman Jill Bolton scored the Lady Flames' final goal of the contest. Following a penalty corner effort, Liberty received possession inside the 25-yard-line. Bolton dribbled to her right and fired a shot while on the run that was placed perfectly in the left corner through a crowded circle.

The Pennsylvania native's ninth goal of the year and third of the weekend brought the hosts within two, 6-4, in the 63rd minute.

The Lady Flames were forced to play a player down following a yellow card at 65:35 and could not manage a shot after Bolton's goal. UNC received a yellow card with 51 seconds to even back the numbers on the field.

North Carolina closed the match with a 22-7 edge in shots and 7-3 edge in penalty corners won.

The Tar Heels' Hendry (13-4) collected the win in goal, making one save in 40:31 of action, before yielding to Halpin (3 GA, 2 SV). Liberty netminder Allison Schaefer (7-10) matched a season high with nine saves on Sunday. The Lady Flames' sophomore broke the program mark for career saves on Friday at Temple and now has 216 career saves.

Liberty will be back in action at the 2017 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship, hosted by Providence, this upcoming Friday through Sunday. The No. 2 seed Lady Flames (7-10, 5-2 BIG EAST) will face the No. 3 seed Old Dominion Monarchs (8-9, 5-2 BIG EAST) on Friday at 4 p.m. at Lennon Family Field in Providence, R.I.

The winner of the semifinal matchup will face either No. 1 seed UConn (17-0, 7-0 BIG EAST) or No. 4 seed Providence (11-7, 4-3 BIG EAST), who will square off at 1 p.m. on Friday.

The BIG EAST Championship title game will be held on Sunday at 1 p.m.