In a game of scoring runs, it was No. 1 seed Winthrop outlasting No. 2 seed Liberty, 13-8, in the Big South Championship title game on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles closed the contest on a 5-1 spurt to defeat the No. 2 seed Lady Flames in Rock Hill, S.C.
Liberty jumped ahead 2-0 during the first three minutes of competition. Sam Struss netted the game's first goal when the senior notched her 34th goal of the season in the second minute of play. Strong passing by Nina Dunay set up the goal.
One minute later, Michaela Rich doubled Liberty's lead by connecting on her 29th goal of the season. Freshman Katy Pridemore found Rich for a quick one-timer to give the Lady Flames a 2-0 advantage.
Jenna Kasmarik, the Big South Player of the Year, cut the deficit in half after the senior attacker netted her NCAA leading 73rd goal of the season.
Despite surrendering a goal, Liberty extended its lead back to two goals, as Dunay notched a free position goal. Dunay raced in front of the net, burying the ball into the bottom right side of the net or a 3-1 edge.
Host Winthrop regained its composure, netting four consecutive goals to take a 5-3 advantage with 16:17 remaining in the first half.
The Lady Flames responded with three unanswered goals of their own to take a 6-5 lead with 3:58 left to play in the opening stanza. Kallie Britton netted her 33rd goal of the season and ninth of the Big South Championship to begin the Liberty scoring spurt.
Pridemore notched her 52nd goal of the season, assisted by Dunay, to tie the contest at five apiece. Pridemore's goal came with 10:17 remaining before intermission.
Dunay connected on her second goal of the contest and 29th of the season, to give Liberty its second lead of the match. One captain found another to combine on the score, as Morgan Becker found the Ashburn, Va., native to give the Lady Flames a 6-5 advantage.
The Eagles responded with three-goal run, extending into the beginning of the second half, to push themselves back into the lead at 8-6 with 28:38 to play in regulation.
Struss cut the deficit to one with a man down. With a player in the box, Struss laced a shot into the back of the net, her 35th of the season, cutting the Eagles' lead to 8-7 with 20:39 left.
Over the next 15 minutes, Winthrop collected four more goals to take a 12-7 lead with 5:21 remaining in regulation. Two of the four goals were netted by Kasmarik.
With 3:16 left in the contest, Struss collected Liberty's final goal of the season, her third of the contest. Struss' goal cut the Liberty deficit down to four.
The Liberty goal was not enough to spark the offense. Kasmarik notched her fifth goal of the contest, and 77th of the season, with 1:33 remaining. Kasmarik's strike all but sealed the game for Winthrop.
The Eagles outshot the Lady Flames, 33-17 over the duration of the contest. Despite tallying only seven draw controls compared to 15 from Winthrop, Liberty hung with the Eagles in ground balls, with both teams picking up 15.
Juliann Elmer received the losing decision in the championship game, falling to 9-11 on the season. Elmer notched seven more saves on Sunday, to bring her season total to 210, which leads the NCAA in saves.
Kallie Britton, the Lady Flames leading scorer in the Big South tournament, was joined by defender Colleen Ekert and attacker Katy Pridemore on the Big South All-Tournament team.
2015 Big South All-Tournament Team Shannon Gallagher, Winthrop, MVP Paige Jenkins, Winthrop Katie Clark, Winthrop Kristen Shriver, Winthrop Kallie Britton, Liberty Colleen Ekert, Liberty Katy Pridemore, Liberty Samantha Brown, High Point Julia Burns, High Point Keri White, Coastal Carolina Jen Cosgrove, Coastal Carolina