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Liberty's Comeback Falls Short at Duke

October 12, 2014  Durham, N.C.  RSS
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Liberty's Comeback Falls Short at Duke

The Liberty Lady Flames saw their eight-game winning streak come to a halt against No. 9 Duke, losing 3-2 at Jack Katz Stadium on Sunday. The loss marks the first time the Lady Flames have lost to a ranked ACC opponent this season.

Following two early unanswered goals, Liberty was seconds away from sending the game into overtime until Duke's Alexa Mackintire snuck a shot past junior goalie Mallory Cuccio with 23 seconds left on the clock. The late goal ended the Lady Flames' chance of pulling off their third upset of the season over a ranked ACC opponent.

In Sunday's loss, Sarah Gipe notched her 12th goal of the season and fourth on the weekend. Gipe's goal moves her to within one goal of tying her single season career high of 13 goals set in 2012.

Gipe recorded one assist as well during Sunday's loss to give her four points on the day, bringing her season point total to 28 to match her total set in 2012.

The Lady Flames' loss drops their record to 9-5 overall on the season, while the Blue Devils improve to 10-3.

Duke jumped on board first early in the eighth minute following a successful penalty stroke from Aileen Johnson. Two minutes later, the Blue Devils notched their second goal of the competition when Ashley Kristen netted her third goal of the season.

Liberty did not allow the early deficit to discourage them and scored two unanswered goals to set up for the dramatic finish.

The Lady Flames got on board during the 22nd minute when freshman Alynn Richardson netted her third goal on the season. Gipe weaved through the defense, entering the right side of the circle. Gipe's dribbling brought Duke goalie Lauren Blazing out of the net to defend the shot. With Blazing away from the front of the net, Gipe dished the pass to the middle for Richardson to finish the job, cutting the deficit to one goal.

The score remained 2-1 until the 48th minute when Gipe helped the Lady Flames quiet the home crowd. Serena Barr dribbled through the defense, throwing a shot on goal. Blazing knocked the ball down with her pads, but could not knock the ball away. Gipe seized the moment and stole the ball away from Blazing, flicking it into the back of the net for the equalizer.

The hard fought battle continued back and forth, with most signs pointing towards overtime. However, Mackintire had a different plan in mind, netting the game-winner with just 23 seconds left to play.

The Blue Devils outshot the Lady Flames 18-6, including a 13-4 advantage in shots on goal. Duke also forced six attacking penalty corners compared to five from Liberty.

The Lady Flames return to action on Friday, traveling to Charlottesville, Va., to square off against No. 3 Virginia at 6 p.m.

Following the match with the Cavaliers, Liberty returns home to begin its final homestand of the season on Oct. 19 when it faces No. 1 North Carolina at 2 p.m. The home match will be broadcast on ESPN3.