The Liberty women's soccer team stepped on to the field Sunday afternoon at Bryan Park Soccer Complex poised to capture its second straight Big South Championship. However, the No. 3 seed High Point Panthers found a way to match the Lady Flames' energy, forcing overtime after a 2-2 stalemate in regulation. Following two scoreless extra periods, the contest went to a shootout, where High Point advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4. Liberty concludes the year with a 14-4-2 record and the Big South regular season championship. High Point (12-4-4) now awaits its opening-round matchup in the 2014 NCAA Women's College Cup.
Junior midfielders Brittany Aanderud and Madison Kauzlarich each posted goals for the Lady Flames. Helena Pereira earned an assist on Kauzlarich's goal. For their performance in the postseason, Aanderud, Kauzlarich and junior forward Crystal Elmers were each named to the conference's all-tournament team.
Meredith Dunker and Bri Jean-Charles recorded goals for High Point, while Jacky Kessler chipped in an assist on the second marker.
Liberty goalkeeper and Big South Defensive Player of the Year Holly Van Noord played in between the pipes the entire contest, finishing with four saves. Alex Persiani played in goal during the opening 45 minutes and the shootout for High Point, making six saves. Jordan Beets made four saves during the second half and two overtime periods.
Liberty outshot the Panthers, 19-10, and held a 9-3 advantage on corner kicks.
Aanderud wasted little time in the opening period, lighting up the scoreboard for the Lady Flames in the fourth minute. The midfielder created space between a challenging defender and blasted a shot from outside the top of the 18-yard box. The ball sailed high into the left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead. Aanderud's sixth goal of the year marked the first time that the Panthers, making their sixth-ever appearance in the championship match, had allowed a goal in a Big South Championship final.
High Point responded in the 21st minute. After infiltrating the box, Dunker snuck a 15-yard shot past Van Noord into the right corner, knotting the game at 1-1 heading into halftime.
Liberty struck early in the second half, with Kauzlarich finding the back of the net in the 48th minute. Pereira sent a crossing pass from the right side of the box over to the junior. Kauzlarich then tapped a shot in from the left side, giving Liberty the 2-1 lead.
Despite Liberty controlling possession for much of the second period, the Panthers found an opening in the 87th minute. After a pass from Kessler, Jean-Charles settled the ball in the box and dribbled around Van Noord. The freshman forward then booted a shot into an open goal to knot the contest at 2-2, ultimately sending the match Neither team managed to find the back of the net in the extra periods, which set up the penalty kick shootout. Knotted it at 4-4, Persiani stopped a shot from Kauzlarich. Bailey Beattie followed up with a goal for High Point to help the Panthers advance, 5-4.
Big South All-Tournament Team Krista Chauvin – Gardner-Webb Asyia Mitchell - Radford Heather Muller – UNC Asheville Taylor Coleman - Winthrop Nicole Connolly - Campbell Alexis Prada - Campbell Rylie Johnson- Coastal Kacey Kelley - Coastal Brittany Aanderud – Liberty Madison Kauzlarich – Liberty Crystal Elmers – Liberty Becca Lisson – High Point Alise LeCompte – High Point Amy Burch – High Point Jacky Kessler – High Point (MVP)