The Liberty women's soccer team captured its fourth Big South Championship in program history and first since 2005, Sunday afternoon.
The Liberty women's soccer team captured its fourth Big South Championship in record-setting fashion, defeating No. 1 seed Radford, 5-0, Sunday afternoon at CCU Soccer Field. The Lady Flames will now await their opponent in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, with the selection show airing live on NCAA.com, Monday, at 4:30 p.m. Liberty's five-goal performance marks a tournament record for the most tallies in a finals matchup. With the fifth straight victory, the Lady Flames improve to 16-5-1, surpassing the 2000 Big South championship-winning squad for the most single-season wins in program history. Geena Swentik led the Lady Flames with two goals, followed by Brittany Aanderud, Rebecca Smith and Julia Delgatti, who each had one. Aanderud and Alanna Dunkle also had two assists, apiece, on the afternoon. Aanderud's helpers give her a school-record 10 assists on the season. She remains No. 3 on Liberty's all-time list with 15 career assists. For her performance throughout the tournament (one goal, five assists), Aanderud was crowned Big South Tournament MVP, while Dunkle, Swentik and senior captain Casey Norris were also named to the all-tournament team. Goalkeeper Holly Van Noord collected her 14th shutout, breaking Radford netminder Che' Brown's (2012, 13 shutouts) single-season conference record. Van Noord concluded the contest with six saves. Brown played nearly 82 minutes in between the pipes, making eight stops. Lauren Markey stepped in during the remaining 8:27 for the Highlanders, collecting one save. Liberty outshot the Highlanders, 19-14, and held a 4-2 advantage on corner kicks. The Lady Flames played with high energy throughout the matchup, displaying relentless offensive pressure. Aanderud put the Lady Flames on the board with her sixth goal of the season in the 15th minute. After the ball took an odd bounce in front of the Radford defense, the sophomore collected it just outside the 18-yard box. Aanderud took a few quick dribbles and ripped a low shot from the top of the key, sending it into the lower left corner for the early 1-0 lead. Just over four minutes later, the Lady Flames ignited the scoreboard again. With the ball on the left side of the goal line, Dunkle slid a crossing pass to Swentik, who was positioned in front of the goal frame. The junior one-timed the pass, tapping it into the lower right corner for the 2-0 advantage. In the second period, Liberty picked up where it left off in the first, netting three more goals in the stanza. The tandem of Dunkle and Swentik joined forces again in the 54th minute, receiving some help from Aanderud to make it 3-0. With the Lady Flames' attack charging down field, Aanderud dished the ball to Dunkle, who quickly crossed it to Swentik. The junior was once again positioned in front of the goal frame, tapping it off the back of her foot into the left corner. Liberty's fourth goal came just at the start of the 74th minute. Aanderud took the corner kick, sending it into the left side of the 18-yard box. Elmers then flicked a pass up to Smith, who popped it off her foot and swiped it into the right side of the net, increasing the Lady Flames' lead to four. Smith's marker was her fifth of the season. Delgatti capped off Liberty's scoring on the afternoon, netting her second goal of the season at the top of the 86th minute. The freshman managed to pick a loose ball off a ricochet and sent it into the right side of the net, setting up the 5-0 final and the first Big South title since 2005. Liberty Head Coach Jessica Hain "I would like to congratulate Radford on a great season and a great run in the tournament. I thought we executed our game plan and fought really hard. We defended very well and I feel that was the key to today's game."
Radford Head Coach Ben Sohrabi "All the credit goes to Liberty and its coaching staff. They played an great game and were well prepared to play for a championship. This does not define our season or our seniors. This group broke a lot of records and they have had a great career. We love them and wish them well."
All-Tournament Team Brittany Aanderud, Liberty (MVP) Alanna Dunkle, Liberty Geena Swentik, Liberty Casey Norris, Liberty Stephanie Herb, Radford Sydney Golden, Radford Julie Ruh'e, Radford Taylor Parker, High Point Jenny Marshall, High Point Megan Pritts, Winthrop Okina Crawley, Winthrop Sydney Fontenot, Presbyterian College Rylie Johnson, Coastal Carolina Kelsey Pardue, Longwood Allie Lewis, Charleston Southern