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Liberty Reaches BSC Championship Game for 3rd Straight Year with 2-1 Win

November 6, 2015  Greensboro, N.C.  RSS
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Aly Hill (center) connects with a header in the 67th minute to help Liberty advance to its third straight Big South Championship game.

Aly Hill (center) connects with a header in the 67th minute to help Liberty advance to its third straight Big South Championship game.

The No. 1 seed Liberty women's soccer team is headed back to the Big South Championship final for the third straight year after defeating No. 4 seed High Point, 2-1, Friday at Bryan Park.

The Lady Flames now await the winner of the second semifinal matchup between No. 2 Coastal Carolina and No. 3 Campbell, which takes place later tonight. Sunday's championship final is slated for 2 p.m. at Bryan Park, streaming live on ESPN3.

Friday's matchup served as a rematch of the 2014 Big South Championship final, resulting in High Point claiming the title via penalty kicks (5-4) following a 2-2 tie (Nov. 9, 2014).

Liberty's championship game appearance on Sunday will be its eighth in Big South history, surpassing UNC Asheville for sole possession of the all-time record.

Sophomore forward Jennifer Knoebel and freshman midfielder Aly Hill posted the pair of goals for the Lady Flames, with Jaime Bouffard and Sami Santos each garnering assists. High Point's Kelsey Perrell netted the lone goal for the Panthers.

Liberty goalkeeper Holly Van Noord played the entire 90 minutes, finishing with four saves. High Point netminder and Big South Defensive Player of the Year Alex Persiani concluded the contest with two saves.

With the win, the Lady Flames move to 12-7-1 on the year. High Point concludes its season with a 12-5-4 record. Liberty leads the all-time series versus the Panthers with a 16-10-3 mark.

During the contest, shots were even at 12 apiece, with Liberty holding a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.

Liberty's attack came out firing, posting three shots in the first 10 minutes. Brittany Aanderud put a shot on the goal frame in the 10th minute, blasting an attempt that was snatched up by Persiani.

Knoebel put the Lady Flames on the board in the 15th minute. Barreling down the left side of the field, Bouffard sent a crossing pass into the center of the 18-yard box for Knoebel. Located in front of the goal frame, the forward received the ball, tapping it into the right corner from close range, to give Liberty the early 1-0 lead. Knoebel's goal was her team-leading sixth of the season.

High Point tried to find the equalizer in the 32nd minute. Lindsay Elsen headed a shot toward the Liberty net, but Van Noord was there to thwart the attempt, allowing Liberty to maintain its 1-0 lead at halftime.

The Panthers responded with a game-tying goal 11 minutes into the second period. Going left to right across the field, Perrell received the ball 40 yards out and carried it to the right sideline. The forward then beat a Liberty defender, penetrating the 18-yard box. Perrell finished the play by scoring with a shot inside the near post to knot the contest at 1-1.

The stalemate did not last long, as Liberty reclaimed the lead in the 67th minute. Positioned just outside left side of the 18-yard box, Santos sent a crossing pass toward the goal frame. Hill made a diagonal run at the ball, connecting on header and redirecting it inside the far post. The Big South All-Freshman team member's second goal of the year gave the Lady Flames a 2-1 advantage.

High Point's best look in the closing minutes came at the top of the 83rd minute. Meg Kowalski launched at shot at the Liberty net. Van Noord got a hand on the ball, popping it over the top of the crossbar to set up the 2-1 final.