Behind a career-defining performance from goalkeeper Sonia Rodriguez , Liberty defeated SEC visitor Arkansas, 2-1, in women's soccer action Friday night at Liberty Soccer Field.
Rodriguez (Sr., GK, Fairfax, Va.) made a career-high 12 saves in the match, eight of those saves coming in the second half. With the Lady Flames' defense sustaining 21 total shots from the Lady Razorbacks, Liberty's victory lay strongly on the shoulders of the first-year starter in the net.
"It's becoming almost redundant to talk about Sonia's exploits after every match," commented Liberty head coach James Price. "But to have a goalkeeper playing that well so consistently brings such confidence to our defense and our team. These girls believe they can do so much more with her behind them."
After playing to a scoreless tie for the first half of the match, Liberty got onto the board by way of the foot of Alaina Hohnarth (Jr., MF, Hamburg, N.J.) in the 53rd minute. Inserted into the lineup to begin the second half, Hohnarth blasted a shot into the net off of a direct kick from 25 yards out. For the reserve midfielder, it was her first goal of the season and the second of her career.
The Lady Flames extended their lead to 2-0 after a shot from Amy Oberlin (Fr., MF, Ada, Mich.) ricocheted off the crossbar and dropped in front of midfielder Hope West (So., Auburndale, Fla.), who did not hesitate directing the rebound back toward the goal and past the Lady Razorback goalkeeper in the 62nd minute. The goal was also the first of the season for West and second of her career, who played a very complete game throughout the night for the Lady Flames.
"I thought Hope battled well all night," said Price. "She played very tough for us, as did our forwards Brittney [Bench] (So.; Orefield, Pa.) and Mandee [Judd] (Jr.; Front Royal, Va.).
"Mandee has been playing so very tough for us for many games in a row now," concluded the eighth-year head coach.
Despite only being able to get seven shots, four of them on goal, against the Lady Razorbacks, Price was very upbeat about his team's overall effort.
"I feel we really deserved this win, and I told the girls that," said the LU alum. "Despite them throwing everything at us but the kitchen sink in the final 20 minutes, we played extremely well. I think for at least the first 70 minutes, we were at least equal with them, if not the better team. And for that last 20 minutes, we dug in and earned this one against a strong SEC team. This win is a program builder, and helps us out a lot in the long term."
Arkansas secired a place on the scoreboard amidst a fury of shots late in the match. Senior defender Katie Taylor was able to put in Arkansas's lone goal. Her shot found the back of the net from eight yards out in the 86th minute after assists from teammates Katie Stauffer and Christina Burger.
Liberty improves to 2-2-2 on the season. The Lady Flames travel to Harrisonburg, Va., for their next match against James Madison. Liberty will take on the Dukes this Wednesday, September 21st. Kickoff for the non-conference match is set for 7:00 p.m.