In the eighth game of the 2013 season, the Liberty University women's soccer team did something it hadn't done yet this season: give up a goal in regulation.
Elon University capitalized in the 41st minute of the match against the Flames Friday Sept. 20 en route to a 2-0 victory to move to 5-1-1 on the season.
After struggling to gain possession with consistency throughout the first half against an athletic Liberty team, the Phoenix got a head of steam as the clock approached halftime and capitalized on a second chance opportunity for junior midfielder Raychel Diver.
Freshman defender Rachel Hallman got a cross up to senior forward Catherine Brinkman on the far side of the box. Brinkman headed it over freshman goalkeeper Holly Van Noord, who was caught in the middle of the box, but hit it off the crossbar. Diver was there for the rebound and headed the loose change home for the lead.
"It was kind of like the ketchup bottle syndrome," Elon head coach Chris Neal said. "Our first wave of players loosened things up and we kept bringing good players at them and at them. Ultimately, we got the breaks we needed."
Just a few minutes earlier, senior Kendall Stanley got on a run up the middle as the ball was sent through two Liberty defenders, but she sent her attempt just wide of the right post to keep the game scoreless.
Out of halftime, junior midfielder Marissa Russo said Neal wanted the Phoenix to put more shots on goal. Just 52 seconds into the second half, Russo took Neal's plea to heart and scored her first goal of the season on a chip-shot over the head of Van Noord to put the Phoenix up 2-0.
"Normally I cross the ball," Russo said. "But I was so close to the 18-yard box and I saw the chance and I took a chance at it and went in."
Throughout the first half, the Flames kept possession for majority of the half, but couldn't capitalize on the advantage. Midway through the half, the best chance game when two players hit headers at Elon goalkeeper Kate Murphy, but she turned both away to keep the game scoreless.
Liberty kept the pressure on in the second half, but was unable to get anything past Murphy as she tallied her second shutout of the season. It's just the first loss in regulation this season for the Flames, as they fell to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Marshall University in overtime.
"We had a game plan and we knew they were going to come out fast," Russo said. "They're a high pressure team so we knew they would come out with pressure and we needed to match that and we did that really well in the first half. Once we slowed them down, we stepped back a little on the pressure and were able to play our game."
The Phoenix return to action Sunday Sept. 22 on the road against the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams. Kick is set for 1 p.m. in Richmond, Va.
The Phoenix and Rams have played twice, both coming in 2010 and 2011. On both occasions, the two sides have drawn both times. Last time out, the two battled to a scoreless draw.
This is the final non-conference game before the Phoenix start conference play Thursday, Sept. 26. Elon will have one more non-conference game against Francis Marion University Oct. 6.