Liberty came up just short in a 3-2 loss to UConn in the BIG EAST Championship title game. (Photo credit: Mitch Lefft)
The No. 2 seed Liberty field hockey team nearly erased a three-goal deficit to No. 1 seed UConn in the 2016 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship title game but came up just short in a 3-2 loss at Howarth Field on Sunday.
With the win, UConn improves to 20-1 and wins the BIG EAST title in each of the past five seasons. Liberty's first season in the BIG EAST comes to an end with an 8-10 record.
UConn's Charlotte Veitner scored the first goal of the game at 10:31. The junior forward forced a turnover and on a quick restart, she entered the Liberty circle and ripped a shot into the right corner to give the Huskies an early 1-0 edge.
UConn senior defender Anna Middendorf made it 2-0, as she scored in the lower left corner of the goal on a penalty corner at 12:32. Veitner and Darby Smith assisted on the goal. Sophomore Amanda Collins extend the Huskies' advantage to 3-0 during the 31st minute, as sophomore Amanda Collins buried a one-timer into the top of the net on a feed from Olivia.
Liberty cut the deficit to 3-1 just before intermission. On its second penalty corner of the game, freshman Mallory Fortenbaugh scored off a rebound from an Agueda Moroni shot at 34:34, her first collegiate career goal.
Liberty started the second half strong, as Serena Barr converted on a penalty corner at 36:05 to trim the UConn lead to 3-2. Fortenbaugh sent a ball into Bethany Barr, who passed it to her sister, Serena Barr. Serena ripped a shot that went in the right side of the goal cage for her eighth goal of the season.
The Lady Flames' best chance for the equalizer came off the stick of Kendra Jones in the 44th minute. The freshman zoomed past the defense with the ball and fired a shot that was stopped by UConn goalkeeper Nina Klein.
Liberty could not generate a shot during the final 26:23 but also held UConn's top offense in the nation without a goal for the final 39:57 of play.
UConn outshot Liberty, 18-8, while also holding a 5-3 edge in penalty corners. Klein picked up her 20th win of 2016 with a two-save effort, while Schaefer got the loss despite a nine-save game.
Liberty was well-represented with four players on the BIG EAST Championship All-Tournament Team: Bethany Barr, Serena Barr, Allison Schaefer and Agueda Moroni.
Bethany Barr scored the game-winner in a 1-0 victory over No. 3 seed Providence on Friday and assisted on a goal on Sunday. Serena Barr tallied a goal in the championship game against UConn.
Schaefer made five saves in a shutout win over Providence and nine saves against the Huskies on Sunday. The freshman broke the program record for single-season saves over the weekend. Schaefer made 124 saves in 2016 and now holds the record previously set by Ann Jefferis (118 saves in 2011).
In two BIG EAST Championship games, Moroni recorded five shots (two on goal). The Cordoba, Argentina, led the team with 10 goals this year.
Most Outstanding Player Amanda Collins, Connecticut All-Tournament Team Paige Gross, Temple Floor Rozemeijer, Providence Bethany Barr, Liberty Serena Barr, Liberty Allison Schaefer, Liberty Agueda Moroni, Liberty Svea Boker, Connecticut Anna Middendorf, Connecticut Casey Umstead, Connecticut Charlotte Veitner, Connecticut Amanda Collins, Connecticut