Women’s soccer falls to FCGU in OT thriller, loses ASUN title game 2-1

The lights shone the brightest, and the crowd screamed the loudest as the Liberty Flames women’s soccer team faced off against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in the Atlantic Sun tournament final Nov. 4.  

Kickoff started, and the game began in earnest. Both teams struggled for momentum and possession throughout the first 35 minutes until Halle Engle set up Chloe Marr for a spectacular set piece goal that opened the scoring on the evening.

FGCU stormed back for the duration of the first half, and even though they found the answer to the pivotal first goal late, the Eagles’ tying goal dissipated due to the play being offsides.

With the score remaining 1-0 in Liberty’s favor at the half, the second half saw one team continue to struggle for momentum and the other one attempt to bleed out time in the second half so that they could be crowned as 2022 ASUN Champions.

For the Flames, however, their dreams turned into nightmares in the 85th minute, as a corner kick by the Eagles led to a shot from the left post by FGCU’s Margaret Berry, which found its way into the back of the net, crushing the dreams of the Liberty crowd in attendance that night. 

Overtime saw Liberty’s goalie Ainsley Leja turn away opportunity after opportunity by Florida Gulf Coast, culminating in the waning seconds of the second extra time. A shot near the same area where the Eagles tied the game came dangerously close to winning the game and sending the Eagles on their way to a road victory before a spectacular save from Leja prevented such an event from occurring.

Thus, this ASUN final decreed that penalty kicks determined who would come out on top. On Friday night, the Eagles got the last laugh, winning with penalty kicks by a final of 4-3 and getting two critical saves from their goalie, Katie Sullivan, that led to the title victory.

 “It was a real physical match. … It was disappointing to give up the goal with five minutes to play, but I don’t want it to take away from the great season our players had,” Liberty Head Coach Lang Wendemeyer said after the game.

For the Flames, their season reached its conclusion on Friday night, despite their regulation unbeaten streak reaching an impressive 13 wins. As for the champion Eagles, who clinched their first ASUN title since 2017, they will soar to the NCAA tournament and await their opponents via Selection Day for the tournament, which took place Monday, Nov. 7. The women’s soccer NCAA tournament begins play Nov. 11.  

Palermo is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

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