CHARLESTON, S.C. - It took an extra seven minutes but the No. 5 Liberty Flames denied the No. 4 High Point Panthers the chance to defend their title as they Flames downed the Panthers 2-1 in overtime in the first game of the 2011 Big South Women's Soccer Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting Thursday at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The Flames will play the winner of No. 1 Radford vs. No. 8 UNC Asheville Friday afternoon at 4:30pm in the semifinals, their second consecutive appearance in the semifinals.
Kelly Henion got the Flames on the board just under 20 minutes into the game, taking a pass from Aimee Luurtsema and putting it past the keeper to give Liberty the 1-0 lead.
LU's Karen Blocker made a great save on a shot by High Point's Kelli Joline soon after to keep the Flames up by one. The Panther's Sarah Sermonet also had an opportunity with 10 minutes left in the half, but her shot went high.
It was again Joline who got the chance to put one on goal after a corner kick in the 64th minute of the game. Joline chipped the shot past Blocker to tie things up 1-1.
Neither team could seal the deal in regulation, sending the game into a 10-minute, sudden death overtime period. The two teams battled in the first few extra minutes with neither attempting a shot on goal. In the seventh minute of overtime Luurtsema sent a pass over to Helena Pereira, who took it up the field and put it past HPU keeper Andrea Ritchie to earn the 2-1 overtime win.
The 2011 season marks the end of High Point's two-year run as Big South Champions, and is the first time since Birmingham Southern in 2005 that the defending champion has been ousted in the quarterfinals.
Top individual scorers for Liberty: Kelly Henion (goal), Helena Pereira (goal), Aimee Luurtsema (two assists). Top individuals for High Point: Kelli Joline (goal).
Shots on goal: Liberty 8, High Point 9; Liberty -GK Karen Blocker 9-7-3; High Point - GK Andrea Ritchie 7-8-3.
Liberty improves to 9-7-3 on the year, while High Point ends its season at 8-7-3. Liberty will be making its seventh appearance in the Big South Tournament semifinals.
Liberty Head Coach Jessica Hain
"It was a great game to watch. High Point is a great team. We were able to keep our composure on both of our goals. It was great composure by a freshman (Pereira) to come through in overtime. It was a great team effort and I thought we showed a lot of maturity."