Sarah Gipe recorded her first career hat trick in Friday's 6-2 victory over Appalachian State.
The Liberty Lady Flames posted their eighth straight victory and Sarah Gipe notched her first career hat trick as Liberty defeated the Appalachian State Mountaineers 6-2 on Friday afternoon at Brandon and Erica M. Adcock Field at Appalachian State Field Hockey Stadium. The triumph moves Liberty within one conference win of clinching its third consecutive NorPac East Division title. Over the eight-game winning streak, Liberty is outscoring opponents 43-8, averaging more than five goals per game in that span. Gipe's hat trick brings her goals total to 11 and points total to 25 on the season, just two goals and three points shy of her personal single-season records of 13 goals and 28 points.
The Lady Flames' second win over Appalachian State in six days improves their overall record to 9-4 and 3-0 in conference play. Liberty has now collected 17 straight victories against NorPac East opponents, dating back to a 4-0 victory over Radford on Oct. 12, 2012. The Mountaineers fall to 2-11 and 0-3 in NorPac matches. The Lady Flames broke through first in the 18th minute of action. Following a penalty corner, Liberty was granted a penalty stroke, and defensive specialist Hannah Jones stepped up to provide the first blow. Jones planted the shot into the left side of the net for her second goal of the season. Four minutes later, Gipe collected her first of three goals. With the Lady Flames on the attack, Mercedes Cox dribbled in from the right side of the circle, dropping the ball off to Gipe. The junior flicked the ball into the bottom right corner for the 2-0 lead.
Heading into the closing minutes of the opening half, the rain began to fall. As a result, the game was suspended for 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first half.
The delay did not slow down the spark of the Lady Flames, who scored again one minute into the second half. Gipe netted her second goal of the game and 10th of the season, when Ashlee Krulock found her across the middle of the circle. Gipe beat Jordan Yaukey to the right side of the goal for a 3-0 lead. Liberty's dynamic junior duo of Gipe and Krulock found each other for three goals in the contest, including one goal from Krulock and two from Gipe.
Appalachian State's Savanna Sheridan brought the Mountaineers to within two at 3-1, netting a goal in the 51st minute.
Liberty did not lose focus, netting three unanswered goals over the next 14 minutes. The first goal of the span came off the stick of Krulock. Krulock followed Gipe down the field, setting up her eighth goal of the season. With Gipe passing to the middle of the circle, Krulock streaked in front of the net to flick the ball into the back of the goal for the 4-1 lead.
Helen Doolittle notched the Lady Flames' fifth goal of the competition in the 65th minute off of a penalty corner. Krulock recorded her second assist of the game, passing the ball to Cassidy Bremner at the top of the circle. Bremner settled the ball, passing it off to Doolittle who ripped a shot on goal. Yaukey got a piece of the ball, but the pace of Doolittle's shot took it into the net for her third goal of the season.
The Lady Flames' final goal came one minute later, with Krulock picking up her third assist of the game on Gipe's third goal. Liberty showed great team play, with Bethany Barr zipping the ball to a wide-open Krulock. Krulock passed the ball across the middle of the goal with a flick of her stick. Gipe corralled the ball, tipping the ball into the wide-open net, completing her first career hat trick. The Mountaineers notched one more goal off the stick of Robbi Jensen in the 68th minute, but it was too little, too late for the home team who fell by a 6-2 count.
Liberty controlled all facets of the game, outshooting Appalachian State 24-3, and forcing 13 penalty corners to the Mountaineers' zero.
The Lady Flames will make their way to Durham, N.C. Sunday, to face No. 9 Duke Blue Devils at Jack Katz Stadium. Sunday's contest is slated for 1 p.m. and marks the third ranked ACC opponent that Liberty has squared off against this season. The Lady Flames hold a 2-0 record against ACC opponents thus far in 2014.