The Liberty field hockey team poses with the NorPac championship banner after defeating 10th ranked Stanford to claim the conference title on Saturday.
Natalie Barr's go-ahead goal with 3:49 remaining in the game propelled the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team to a 2-1 upset of 10th ranked Stanford and the 2013 NorPac Championship title. With the victory, Liberty earns a berth in the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship and will compete in a play-in game on Wednesday. The Lady Flames will find out their opponent tomorrow night when the NCAA announces the tournament field at 10 p.m.
Liberty claims its first NorPac title in just its second season of competition in the league and third season overall as a program. The win helped the Lady Flames avenge a 3-0 loss in last season's title match to Stanford in Farmville, Va.
Natalie Barr scored both of the Lady Flames' goals in the second half and tournament MVP Ann Jefferis stepped up in a big way to notch six saves in the cage, as Liberty won its program-record 12th game in a row. The Lady Flames improve to 17-4 overall with the win, while the Cardinal falls to 16-5.
Joining Jefferis on the All-Tournament team were sisters Natalie and Bethany Barr. Jefferis finished the tournament with eight saves and just two goals allowed in five halves of play. Natalie Barr tallied two goals, while Bethany Barr notched two goals and an assist over the course of the three-day tournament.
Stanford controlled the ball for much of the opening half. The Cardinal out-shot the Lady Flames, 9-4, and forced six penalty corners to Liberty's one. However, the Liberty defense weathered the early storm. Jefferis made five first-half saves and the Lady Flames' defensive penalty-corner unit led by midfielder Erin Dombach turned Stanford away on each of its short corner opportunities in the opening stanza.
On offense, Liberty managed to get several open shots, but was unable to send any of them on cage, as the game went to halftime deadlocked at zero.
With the support of a raucous crowd of over 750 people, the Lady Flames' offense began to pick up momentum midway through the final half. In the 52nd minute, Liberty's Helen Doolittle fired a shot wide of the goal off of the team's final short corner attempt of the contest.
The Lady Flames finally broke the scoreless tie with 12:37 remaining in the game. Serena Barr made a run inside the Stanford 25-yard line and dumped the ball ahead to a streaking Natalie Barr. The sophomore knocked down the pass in the left side of the circle and blasted a strong-side sweep into the top-right corner of the cage, giving Liberty the 1-0 advantage.
The Cardinal would not go quietly, coming back with two shots and two penalty corners in the next 7:10 of action. On the second short corner attempt, Jessica Chisholm delivered a pass across the circle to Alex McCawley. The midfielder lined the ball past Jefferis and into the cage, knotting the contest at one apiece.
With the minutes ticking away, Natalie Barr stepped up and proved why she was named the NorPac East Division Offensive Player of the Year two years in a row. Jordan Richardson chased down a ball near the right baseline and sent it into the circle to Barr. The sophomore dribbled toward the cage, and despite tight defense from Stanford, ripped a reverse shot past Stanford goalkeeper Dulcie Davies. Barr's second marker of the match proved to be the game-winner with 3:49 left to go in the game.
The Cardinal, in an attempt to tie the score, pulled Davies in favor of another field player. Liberty's defense stood tall yet again and did not surrender a shot in the waning minutes, sealing the game and the title for the Lady Flames.
Stanford recorded more shots, 15-7, and more penalty corners, 11-2, than Liberty, but the Lady Flames were able to convert on their only two shots on goal of the contest, which proved to be the difference.
Jefferis came up with multiple big saves on the day, finishing with six for the contest. Davies did not make a save in her 70 minutes of action.
2013 NorPac Championship All-Tournament Team Ann Jefferis, Liberty (Tournament MVP) Natalie Barr, Liberty Bethany Barr, Liberty Paige Counsman, Pacific Daniele King, Davidson Cloey LemMon, UC Davis Maddie Secco, Stanford Nicole Segala, Longwood Anna Simmons, Stanford Allie Swartz, Cal Alayna Versage, Radford