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No. 10 Lady Flames Set for Top 5 Opponents

October 28, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The No. 10 Liberty Lady Flames field hockey squad will take on a pair of Top 5 opponents this week, beginning with No. 3 North Carolina tomorrow at 4 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C., to close out the road schedule for the 2015 season. Liberty returns home on Saturday to challenge No. 4 Duke at 1 p.m. at Liberty Field Hockey Field.

Nick Pierce of the Liberty Flames Sports Network had a chance to catch up with head coach Jodi Murphy to discuss the Top 5 ACC opponents this week.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for both contests by clicking on the appropriate links on the field hockey schedule/results panel of

Tomorrow's live stats and live video will be provided by the North Carolina Athletics Communications department and the ACC Network. There will be a nominal fee for the live streaming through the ACC Network.

Saturday's live stats and live video will be provided by Liberty Athletics Communications and the Big South Network. You can also follow the team by following @LUGameday or by following Liberty Field Hockey at @LibertyFH.

About Liberty
The Lady Flames are 11-4, coming off a two-game road trip in which they outscored opponents 12-3 en route to a 2-0 record on the trip. On Friday, Liberty tallied a program-record 40 shots on its way to an 8-0 victory over UMass Lowell. The Lady Flames followed that performance with a 4-3 overtime victory against Providence on Sunday in Providence, R.I. Bethany Barr paced the offense during the weekend, recording eight points including six against Providence. Barr netted three goals and recorded two assists on the weekend.

Quick Facts:
• The Lady Flames rank inside the NFHCA Top 10 for the third consecutive week, falling in line at No. 10, this week from No. 9, last week
• Each of the Lady Flames' four losses have come to Top 20 ACC opponents with each loss being decided by one goal
• Liberty has forced 65 goals on the season, ranking the third most goals in a single season in program history
Natalie Barr leads the team in both points (31) and goals (14) with younger sister Serena right on her tail with 25 points (8g and 9a)
• Barr needs six goals to break her own (and Sarah Gipe's) program record for most goals in a single season (19)
Mallory Cuccio continues to extend her program-best career save total as the senior enters the weekend with 194 career saves, six shy of the 200 milestone mark

Is the third time the charm?
Liberty and North Carolina have squared off twice in program history, both matches being played a season ago. North Carolina swept the series with a 4-0 victory in Lynchburg, Va., on Oct. 19. The Tar Heels then ousted the Lady Flames in the NCAA Field Hockey Tournament first round on Nov. 15 by a score of 2-1 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Scouting the Tar Heels: North Carolina is currently ranked No. 3 in the NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll. Most recently however, the Tar Heels slipped against then No. 7 Wake Forest, 3-2 in Winston-Salem, N.C. The loss halted North Carolina's nine-game winning streak, as the Tar Heels are now 13-2 heading into tomorrow's contest. The Tar Heels boast similar numbers to the Lady Flames, outscoring their opponents 64-21. Gab Major leads the attack with 12 goals and seven assists for a point total of 31. Three North Carolina players have double-digit goals while five players have 20 or more points on the season. Shannon Johnson has played nearly 1,000 minutes in goal for the Tar Heels, having allowed just 18 goals and recording 34 saves.

Lady Flames and the Blue Devils
Duke holds the all-time series advantage over Liberty, 1-0, after the Lady Flames fell to the Blue Devils by a score of 3-2 on Oct. 12 in Durham, N.C., last season. Duke squandered a two-goal lead as Liberty surged back into the contest. However, the Blue Devils buried the game-winning goal with 23 seconds left to clinch the one-goal victory.
Scouting Duke: Despite having an 11-5 overall record, the Blue Devils are currently ranked No. 4 in the NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll. Duke has dropped two of its last three contests with losses to North Carolina (2-1) and No. 1 Syracuse (1-0 (OT)). The Blue Devils only force 2.69 goals per contest, yet they allow only 1.31 goals per game. Defense highlights the Duke effort, having only given up four penalty corner goals throughout the campaign. Heather Morris leads the Blue Devils in goals with eight while Ashley Kristen leads the team in points with 21 (6g and 9a). Lauren Blazing has started all 16 contests in goal for Duke, allowing just 20 goals during the season while recording 88 saves.

What's next?
Following this weekend's contests, Liberty will close out the 2015 regular season on Nov. 7 against a familiar foe in Appalachian State. The final contest will serve as Senior Day and will begin at 11 a.m. at the Liberty Field Hockey Field. Liberty is 6-1 all-time against the Mountaineers, having beaten Appalachian State in six consecutive contests and outscoring the Mountaineers, 42-5, over the stretch.