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No. 13 Liberty Edged by No. 19 James Madison, 3-2

August 26, 2016  Harrisonburg, Va.  RSS
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Freshman Kendra Jones scored her first career collegiate goal in the season opener at JMU.

Freshman Kendra Jones scored her first career collegiate goal in the season opener at JMU.

The No. 13 Liberty field hockey team suffered a 3-2 setback at the hands of No. 19 James Madison, Friday night, at the JMU Field Hockey Complex.

JMU's Hannah Hall converted a penalty stroke in the 62nd minute that proved to be the game-winner. The Lady Flames had two potential scoring opportunities come up short during the closing minutes.

In the 65th minute, Bethany Barr scored what appeared to be the equalizer off a penalty corner, but it was waived off by the officials. In the final minute of the match, Liberty drew its final penalty corner. Serena Barr's shot was headed for the right side of the goal cage, but it was saved by Dukes post player Hannah Hall.

The loss dropped Liberty to 0-1 on the season, while James Madison improved to 1-0 in both team's season openers.

"Despite being scored on very early in the contest, I thought our team did a great job to respond well. That said, it wasn't until the end of the first half that we started to settle in and play with more poise and confidence," said head coach Jodi Murphy. "I thought JMU came out with a ton of energy and did well to capitalize on their chances."

James Madison struck early, scoring just 18 seconds into the match. The Dukes' Melanie Kusakavitch stole the ball inside the 25 and found Melissa Wilken, who fired a back-handed strike into the corner to give James Madison a 1-0 lead.

Despite the Dukes outshot the Lady Flames 8-3 in the first half, Liberty capitalized on a scoring opportunity in the 33rd minute. Off a restart inside the 25, senior Bethany Barr found freshman Kendra Jones inside the left side of the circle. Jones sent a bouncing ball toward the goal and past Dukes goalkeeper Sara Kraeutler for her first career collegiate goal. Following the goal, the two teams went into the intermission tied, 1-1.

The Lady Flames' attack came out strong in the second half. Liberty fired eight shots in the first 13 minutes of the second stanza. The Lady Flames nearly took their first lead of the contest, as Serena Barr found Bethany Barr inside the 25, who then sent it to Pippa Best inside the circle. Best fired a shot that hit the left post, and Jones' rebound attempt went wide.

Liberty took its first lead in the 48th minute as the team converted its first penalty corner of the season. On an Agueda Moroni insert, Bethany Barr found sister Serena, who sent a ball toward the goal cage. Junior forward Alynn Richardson deflected the ball off her stick and past Kraeutler for her first goal of the season to give Liberty a 2-1 advantage.

James Madison tied the match in the 51st minute. After drawing no penalty corners in the first half, the Dukes' Lisa Lejeune scored from the right side to pull the host team even at 2-2.

The game-winner came with under 10 minutes to play. Miranda Rigg was tripped inside the circle on her path to the goal, drawing a penalty stroke. Hall's penalty stroke was to the bottom left corner of the goal cage.

James Madison outshot Liberty, 17-14, overall and held a 10-7 edge in shots on goal. Lady Flames' freshman goalkeeper Allison Schaefer made seven saves in the match. Kraeutler turned aside four Liberty shots to earn the win. Liberty finished the game with a 9-4 advantage in penalty corners.

Next up for the Lady Flames is a trip to No. 4 Duke (1-0) on Sunday. The Blue Devils topped William & Mary, 8-4, in their season opener earlier on Friday.

"Overall, I'm pleased with our effort as we had a lot of newcomers make big plays, especially forward Kendra Jones and goalkeeper Allison Schaefer. We know what we need to tighten up heading into the game Sunday against a very talented Duke team," Murphy stated.