It took two weather delays plus four hours and 20 minutes at the FGCU Soccer Complex but the Liberty women's soccer team picked up its first win of the season defeating Florida Atlantic 1-0. Head coach Lang Wedemeyer's first victory at the helm for Liberty comes in the Lady Flames' first shutout of the season. Liberty improves to 1-2-2 while FAU drops to 3-2-0.
"It is a relief to get the first win under our belts but it makes us hungrier for more," Wedemeyer said after his first win at Liberty. "I thought it was great to get a lot offensive pressure early in the game to give us a goal and an early lead. What I am most proud of is with all the lightning delays our players remained focus and sharp and that is a great sign for us."
Before the game even began, play was suspended due to lightning in the area for an hour. After nearly 15 minutes of action, play was once again suspended for just over two hours. In her first career start Liberty freshman goalkeeper, Melody Jayroe, faced eight shots making two saves.
After a slow start on offense for both teams where a combined three shots where attempted in the first 19 minutes of action, Liberty was the first to capitalize on its opportunity. Gabrielle Farrell attempted two of Liberty's first three shots and on her second attempt she was able to give the Lady Flames the lead. Liberty was able to control possession in the midfield starting with Isabella Habuda down the left flank. Habuda was able to deliver a ball down the left flank to Devon Jones where she placed a ball right in front of goal for Farrell to score her second goal of the season.
Jones' assist gives the forward her third point of the season (1 goal, 1 assist). Farrell's goal was Liberty's first goal this season to occur in the first half.
Once Liberty was on the scoreboard, Wedemeyer looked to get fresh bodies on the field making eight substitutions in two minutes during the first half. The substitutions delivered as they kept FAU scoreless in the remainder of the first half.
"We had a lot of players that played a hand in tonight's defensive effort," Wedemeyer added. "Our greatest strength right now is our depth and we are playing up to 26 players a game and everyone is contributing."
Liberty was able to settle down and be able to control possession and develop a rhythm on offense. In the first four games of the season Liberty had four corner kicks in the first half and against FAU the Lady Flames were able to work down the flanks. As a result, Liberty had three corner kicks in the first half. Liberty's backline did a good job of keeping pressure off Jayroe in the first half as the freshman had to come up with just two saves. The Lady Flames went into the halftime with a lead for the first time this season.
"I felt some jitters going into the game and our senior captain, Asheligh Hill, told me that she supported me and the team supported me and I felt confident from the first time I touched the ball," Jayroe said about her first start in college. "We made so many substitutions throughout the game and whether it was a freshman like Cora (Duininck) or a senior like Hadley (Jones) the level of play never dropped."
The offense started to pick up in the second half as both teams combined for seven shots in the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half. Liberty continued to apply pressure on the flanks ending the game with seven corner kicks. As play continued in the second half, Liberty's backline continued to remain intact and keep the pressure of Jayroe limiting FAU's offense to four shots in the 2nd half.
Liberty will close the FGCU Tournament on Sunday, Sept. 3, against the host, Florida Gulf Coast at 1 p.m. at the FGCU Soccer Complex.