Rachel Hetrick scored two second-half goals as the No. 3 seed Liberty Lady Flames scored three second-half goals on their way to a 4-1 victory over No. 6 seed Birmingham-Southern 4-1 in the first game of the 2005 Big South Women's Soccer Championship at Eagle Stadium on the campus of Winthrop University, Thursday afternoon.
Liberty advances to play No. 7 Radford, a 2-0 winner over No. 2 High Point, tomorrow evening in the conference semifinals, its first appearance in the semifinals since its championship season of 2001. Match time is set for 5 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.
The Lady Flames' Ashley Braam (So., F, Grand Rapids, Mich.) opened the scoring with her fifth goal of the season at the 32:47 mark of the first half, with assistance from Tanya Payne (So., D, Prescott, Ariz.).
The Lady Flames took the 1-0 lead to halftime, having out-shot the Panthers in the first half, 8-3.
Liberty jumped out to a 3-0 lead mid-way through the second half as Brittney Bench (So., F, Orefield, Pa.) tallied her first score of the year at 61:24. Hetrick (So., F, Grantville, Pa.) scored the first of her two goals at 77:35, her third of the 2005 campaign.
Birmingham-Southern cut the deficit to 3-1 when Brittney Jones notched her third goal of the season at 82:09, but Hetrick immediately countered with a goal at 83:19 for the final margin. It was the sophomore's first multiple-goal game of her career.
Liberty keeper Sonia Rodriguez recorded one save, while the Lady Flames' defense held Birmingham-Southern to just four shots all day, two of which were on goal. Tina Ross posted four saves for the Panthers and faced eight shots on goal. Payne, Mandee Judd (Jr., MF, Front Royal, Va.), Sarah Davis (Sr., F, Modesto, Calif.) and Amy Oberlin (MF, F, Ada, Mich.) assisted on Liberty's goals.
Birmingham-Southern ends the season at 8-11-1 and becomes the second defending tournament champion in three years to be ousted in the first round.
Liberty moves 10-6-2 on the season, the most victories and first double-digit win total by a Lady Flames squad since 2001.
"It was probably our best all-around game all season," stated Liberty head coach James Price. "We dominated possession and finished on our scoring opportunities. Now we move onto tomorrow."