Liberty field hockey raced to an early 2-0 lead, only to see No. 6 Delaware erase their deficit and score twice in the final 10:01 to prevail, 3-2, Sunday at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.
Delaware, last year's national champion, tied the game at 59:59 and won it on a goal from Greta Nauck in the 65th minute.
With the loss, Liberty falls to 1-3, while Delaware improves to 5-1.
The Lady Flames surged to a 2-0 lead during the first 5:45 of play. Sophomore midfielder Agueda Moroni weaved through the Blue Hen's defense and knocked a shot past goalkeeper Emmaline Oltmans into the right side of the cage. Moroni's fourth tally of 2017 gave Liberty an early 1-0 edge at 2:39.
The Lady Flames continued its early pressure, drawing their first penalty corner just over five minutes into the match. Sophomore defender Mallory Fortenbaugh sent the insert to the left side of the circle. With space to shoot, freshman Jill Bolton ripped a forehanded rocket into the left side of the goal cage for her first career goal and a 2-0 Liberty lead at 5:45.
Delaware's first shot on goal came on a penalty corner off the stick of Greta Nauck in the 13th minute, but Lady Flames netminder Allison Schaefer turned it aside. Nauck's second opportunity, though, found the back of the cage during the 20th minute.
Nauck gathered a pass from Lotte de Koning from outside the circle, pivoted to her right and sent a low backhanded shot past Schaefer into the left corner of the goal. The Germany native's sixth goal of the year cut the Delaware deficit down to 2-1.
The Lady Flames drew a pair of short corners in the late stages of the second half, but a pair of shots from Bolton were saved by Oltmans, while Richardson's shot clanged off the post.
Both teams drew three short corners in the half, while the Blue Hens held a 7-5 edge in shots.
During the second half, Delaware's continued its pressure on the Liberty defense. The Blue Hens' first short corner of the half saw Lisa Giezeman's tip hit the post during the 42nd minute. Giezeman gathered the deflection and got off another shot, but Schaefer saved it to keep the Lady Flames ahead.
After a stretch of over 15 minutes without a shot on frame for either side, Nauck ripped a shot that Schaefer sent aside at 58:58.
Just over a minute later, the Blue Hens tied the contest at 2-2 on a penalty corner.
Following a Kayla Devlin insert, stick stopper Taylor Lister sent a pass to de Koning. The freshman swept a shot that deflected off Schaefer's pad and slowly trickled across the goal line, evening the match, 2-2, at 60:01.
The Delaware offense drew two more penalty corners ove the next four minutes, but Schaefer saved two shots from de Koning and one from Giezeman.
The Blue Hens took their first lead of the contest at 64:47. With Schaefer sprawled out to prevent a Delaware goal at the left post, Nauck pushed a shot from a tough angle, fading away from the goal cage. Her shot sailed past the Liberty defense and off the backboard, giving Delaware a 3-2 lead at 64:47.
During the closing five minutes, the Lady Flames failed to attempt a shot, allowing visiting Delaware to escape with a one-goal victory.
Delaware outshot Liberty, 21-5, on the afternoon and drew seven penalty corners, compared to three for the Lady Flames. Oltmans (3-1) collected the victory, requiring only one save. Schaefer (1-3) made nine stops.
Liberty is back in action next weekend at the Liberty Field Hockey Field. The Lady Flames open BIG EAST play on Saturday against Villanova and take on MAC member Kent State on Sunday.