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Lady Flames Soccer to Clash with the Spartans, Sunday

August 25, 2012  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Freshman midfielder Brittany Aanderud

Freshman midfielder Brittany Aanderud

The Liberty women's soccer team looks to return to the win column on Sunday, playing host to USC Upstate. Both the Lady Flames and the Spartans are trying to bounce back from two-game losing skids when they meet at Osborne Stadium. The matchup marks the return of USC Upstate head coach Abby Minihan to Liberty's campus, after she served as a Lady Flames assistant coach in 2008. Game time for the first-ever contest between the two teams is slated for 2 p.m.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats powered by GameTracker will be available on, by clicking the appropriate link on the women's soccer schedule/results panel. A live video stream will also be available on the Big South Network for a nominal fee.

A Look at Liberty
The Liberty women's soccer team faced a stiff test, Wednesday night, squaring off with No. 7 Virginia at Klockner Stadium. The Cavaliers' offense posted goals at the beginning and end of the first period and capped the night off with one more in the second to defeat the Lady Flames, 3-0.

Last Sunday, the Liberty opened its home slate against Drexel. Despite outshooting the Dragons and holding the advantage in corner kicks, the Lady Flames were unable to find the net in the contest, allowing the visitors to pick up the 1-0 win at Osborne Stadium.

Two days earlier, Liberty opened the 2012 season with a win, defeating Davidson at Alumni Stadium, 1-0. Freshman Crystal Elmers posted the lone goal for Liberty in the 38th minute of the opening half, courtesy of a Lauren Stell assist. With Stell on the left side of the box, the senior sent a crossing pass to Elmers, who leaped into the air and flicked the ball into the upper right corner for her first career goal.

With the victory, Liberty won its season opener win for the first time in six years. The last time the Lady Flames began the year with a mark in the win column occurred on Aug. 25, 2006, as Liberty bested Longwood, 3-0. That game was also the last time a Liberty freshman scored a goal in a season-opening contest. Maggie Woody posted the Lady Flames' first goal of the game, connecting on a free kick in the 13th minute.

Goalkeeper Karen Blocker played the entire 90 minutes of the Davidson contest in the net, finishing with four saves to notch her 12th career shutout. The redshirt senior is now three shutouts shy of tying Natalie Mayer (15, 2001-2004) for the program record.

Blocker enters Sunday's matchup with USC Upstate with 262 career saves. The Bowie, Md. native needs 35 more to surpass Paula Barringer for No. 2 all-time in program history. With a career goals-against average of 1.59, Blocker is on pace to finish her time at Liberty with the program's best mark. Sonia Rodriguez and Blocker's former teammate Ashley Nyholt currently share the record (1.64).

This is Sparta
USC Upstate enters Sunday's matchup coming off a tough 6-0 defeat to Navy on Friday. The Spartans, meeting with the Lady Flames marks their third contest against a Big South opponent this season. Head coach Abby Minihan's team opened the season with a 1-0 road win against VMI (Aug. 20) before narrowly falling to Charleston Southern at home, 2-1, this past Monday.

Michelle Calmeyn and Tamaya Tompoe each have one goal on the season for the Spartans. Goalkeeper Sarah Plantz has started all three games for USC Upstate and has a 2.51 goals-against average and a .724 save percentage.

Minihan is no stranger to the Liberty women's soccer program. A former Michigan forward and the 2002 Big Ten Player of the Year, Minihan served as an assistant coach during Hain's inaugural year at the program's helm in 2008.

Sister Act … And Big Brother Too
In the last few seasons, Liberty's roster has featured several sister combinations. This year, the Lady Flames lineup includes junior Dawn Elmers and forward Crystal Elmers. This past Wednesday, the pair received the start at Klockner Stadium against No. 7 Virginia, with Dawn lining up at defender and Crystal taking the field at forward.

Freshman midfielder Brittany Aanderud may not have her sister on the team, but her sibling isn't too far away. Liberty baseball second baseman and big brother Bryan Aanderud is entering his senior season with the Flames. Last season, the elder Aanderud led the Flames in batting average (.368), total hits (81) and RBIs (53).

Looking Ahead
Liberty heads to the nation's capital on Friday, squaring off with American. The matchup marks the second meeting all-time between the two squads. In the previous contest, which took place on Sept. 28, 1993, American bested the Lady Flames at Liberty Soccer Field, 8-2. Game time for the rematch 19 years in the making is slated for 4 p.m.

2012 Big South Conference Preseason Women's Soccer Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) – Points
1) Campbell (4) – 132
2) Radford (6) – 130
3) High Point (2) – 122
4) Winthrop – 101
5) Longwood  –  90
6) Charleston Southern – 83
7) Liberty – 76
8) Coastal Carolina – 65
9) UNC Asheville  – 50
10) Gardner-Webb  – 46
11) Presbyterian College – 23