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Lady Flames Open 2010 Season at No. 17 Virginia on Friday

August 19, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Silvia Betancourt and the Lady Flames open the season on the road against No. 17 Virginia on Friday. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.

Silvia Betancourt and the Lady Flames open the season on the road against No. 17 Virginia on Friday. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.

The Liberty Lady Flames soccer team heads to Charlottesville, Va., Friday evening, opening the 2010 season against No. 17 Virginia. Game time at Klöckner Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.

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Series Information
Friday will mark the 10th meeting all-time between Liberty and Virginia. The Lady Flames are looking for an unprecedented win against the Cavaliers, as the host team holds a 9-0-0 advantage in the series. The two squads first met in 2001, matching up during the regular season (Sept. 26) and again in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament (Nov. 16).

Scouting the Cavaliers
Virginia enters Friday's contest listed No. 17 in the NCAA preseason rankings. The Cavaliers closed out the 2009 campaign with a 10-6-6 record (4-4-2, ACC), finishing as the runner-up at the 2009 ACC Championship before advancing to the NCAA Tournament. On the national stage, Virginia moved past St. John's (0-0, 3-1 PKs) and Penn State (6-2) in the first and second rounds, but fell to UCLA in the round of 16, 3-0.

The Cavaliers return their top four scorers from last season, including senior midfielder Sinead Farrelly, who led UVa in scoring last season with eight goals and eight assists for 24 points. Also returning for the Cavaliers is junior forward Lauren Alwine, who has led the team in assists in each of the past two seasons (14 in 2008, nine in 2009).

Hain at the Helm
Liberty Head Women's Soccer Coach Jessica Hain enters her third season at the program's helm. Last season, Hain led the Lady Flames to a Big South regular-season title and was named 2009 Big South Coach of the Year.

Hain came to Liberty after three seasons with the Charlotte Lady Eagles of the United States (USL) W-League, the premier women's soccer league in the United States, as an assistant to head coach Lee Horton. With the club, Hain was responsible for recruiting players for the team, implementing training sessions, running camps and clinics and coaching, training and teaching sports ministry, both in the United States and in Brazil.

A four-year letterwinner in the collegiate ranks, Hain played two years in the midfield at Ohio State (1995-96) and two seasons at N.C. State (1997-98). She was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) of America Scholar-Athlete from 1995-97 and earned Academic All-ACC honors in 1998.

Preseason Favorites
The Liberty women's soccer team was chosen first in the Big South Conference's annual preseason poll, as voted by the league's head women's soccer coaches.

Liberty, the defending 2009 regular-season champions, received five first-place votes and 94 points as the 2010 women's soccer favorite. The Lady Flames finished ahead of Charleston Southern in the poll, as the Buccaneers totaled 87 points and four first-place votes.

Clash with Cats
The Lady Flames are coming off an impressive performance in a Monday night scrimmage against Davidson. Liberty overcame hot and humid weather conditions to post a 3-0 shutout against the defending Southern Conference champions at the Wildcats' Alumni Soccer Stadium.

Senior Maria Owen, along with freshmen Casey Norris and Megan Warner tallied Liberty's trio of goals. Seniors Maggie Woody and Alyssa Andersen each contributed an assist. Senior Ashley Nyholt occupied the net for the opening 60 minutes, followed by freshman goal keeper Alexa Hormann, who took over in the remaining 30 minutes.

Guess Who's Back … Back Again
Liberty returns nine of its 11 starters from its 2009 squad. Among those returning for the Lady Flames include:

Maria Owen (2009 Big South First Team, VaSID All-State Second Team)
Silvia Betancourt (2009 Big South First Team, VaSID All-State Second Team)
Karen Blocker (2009 Big South First Team)
Ashley Nyholt (2009 All-Big South Tournament Team)
Elia Lake (All-Big South Second Team)
Ariana Espinoza (Big South All-Freshman Team)
Madison Short (Big South All-Freshman Team)

Worst to First
The 2009 Lady Flames executed the best turnaround in Big South history, progressing from finishing last in the conference with a mark of 3-12-2 in 2008 to a first place finish with a 9-7-3 record in 2009. Liberty also claimed a 6-1-3 conference posting, earning the moniker of 2009 Big South regular-season champions.

Looking Ahead: South Carolina State
Following their clash with the Cavaliers, the Lady Flames head to Orangeburg, S.C., to take on South Carolina State on Sunday. Game time at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium is slated for 1 p.m. The Lady Bulldogs are coming off their first winning season in program history, posting a 10-7-3 record in 2009. The contest will mark South Carolina State's second game of the season, as it plays host Navy on Friday.

Liberty and South Carolina State have met only one time before, as the Lady Flames hosted the Lady Bulldogs on Oct. 9, 1999. Liberty took the contest, 23-0, setting a team record for the most goals in a single game.