Golden goal lifts Liberty to victory
Pereira’s game-winning tally powers Flames past High Point
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A golden goal by Helena Pereira in the 93rd minute allowed No. 5 seed Liberty to advance to the semifinals of the 2011 Big South Championship, after knocking off No. 4 seed High Point by a 2-1 score in overtime on Thursday afternoon.
After a first-half goal by Kelly Henion gave Liberty the early lead, the Panthers tied the contest in the second half, forcing overtime and setting up Pereira's golden goal.
With the win at Blackbaud Stadium, Liberty moves to 9-7-3 on the season. Meanwhile, two-time defending Big South champion High Point's season ends with an 8-10-3 record.
High Point came out firing early in the contest, taking four shots on goal in the first 16 minutes of play. Four of Liberty goalkeeper Karen Blocker's five saves on the night came during the span, as she thwarted each attempt by the Panthers' offense.
Despite High Point controlling the action in the early going, Liberty turned the tide in the 20th minute. From the near side, Aimee Luurtsema sent a crossing pass to Henion, who placed a shot in the left corner of the net for the early 1-0 lead. Henion's goal was her fourth on the season.
Following Henion's goal, Liberty began to control possession. Madison Short attempted to give Liberty its second goal in the 30th minute, but Andrea Ritchie was there to make the save for the Panthers to keep the score 1-0 in favor of the Flames at halftime.
In the second half, High Point found the equalizer in the 65th minute. After her first attempt was blocked, the Panthers' Kelli Joline settled the ball and fired at the Liberty net, sending the shot into the upper left corner to knot the contest, 1-1.
|Other Big South Results|
|No. 1 Radford 1, No. 8 UNC-Asheville 1 (Radford advances on penalty kicks)|
|No. 3 Campbell 3, No. 6 Gardner-Webb 1|
|• Conference Championship Central|
With the contest still tied in the final moments, Henion had two looks at the High Point net, but both shot attempts sailed wide, forcing overtime.
Pereira's golden goal occurred at the start of the 93rd minute. Once again Luurtsema picked up the assist, sending a crossing pass to Pereira. The freshman blasted the ball, placing it into the upper left corner for the 2-1 final.
Despite the loss, High Point outshot Liberty 9-8 and held a 9-3 advantage in corner kicks. Ritchie played the entire contest in the net for High Point, finishing with two saves. Blocker also played the full 92:03, making five saves.
"It was a great game to watch and play," Liberty coach Jessica Hain stated. "High Point is a great team. We were able to keep our composure on both goals and I think that made the difference. It was a great team effort and I thought we showed a lot of maturity."