The Elon Phoenix women’s soccer team played the Liberty University Flames tied for the first time this season, 1-1. Despite Liberty holding a 1-4-1 record before playing the Phoenix, head coach Neil Payne said he expected the result.
“They’re a good team, they played Virginia and Virginia Tech, so two power-five teams. So you can't read anything into that,” Payne said.
The Phoenix trailed going into halftime for the first time since their 3-0 loss against Furman University. It was down by just one goal, but as freshman forward Bethany Harford said, they didn’t let that change their mentality.
“Our mentality doesn't change when we go in and we’re 1-0 down because our mentality from the start is to win,” Harford said. “We went back in, we corrected what we think was what we could improve on as a team and coach came in he encouraged us.”
It wasn’t for lack of effort. The Phoenix started off strong, controlling the offense for the first 15 minutes of the match, but the Flames started climbing back and taking control. Although their time with the ball was short, the Flames made it count.
Liberty sophomore forward Kasey Jamieson beat freshman goalkeeper Katrin Hauksdottir in the 27th minute, firing one into the upper corner and out of reach of Hauksdottir.
The start of the second half started in a similar manner, with the Flames controlling the ball and the Phoenix working to get it back. Halfway through, the Phoenix were able to posses the ball more and start to change momentum.
Two strong offensive drives lead to equalizing opportunities, but strong defense by Flames red-shirt sophomore midfielder Kathleen Brumagin was the brick wall that the Phoenix couldn’t get around.
“We’re creating. It'd be frustrating if we weren't creating the chances,” said Payne.
With just three minutes remaining in the match, all seemed lost for the Phoenix when Harford stepped in. A long ball sent up to Harford became a one-on-one between Harford and Flames junior goalkeeper Melody Jayroe. Jayroe made the initial tip, but the deflection wasn’t strong enough and Harford tapped in the trickling ball to level the match.
“When you're one-on-one with the keeper knowing that you've got five minutes to go and if you don't score then the game is over, there's a lot of emotions go for your head,” Harford said. “I would not have been in that position if I didn’t have the team to get me in that position. It wasn’t me scoring the goal, it was the whole team scoring with me.”
The first overtime period consisted of constant back and forth play, although not all of it was pretty. The Flames, who had been passing crisply for the majority of the game, started missing passes and giving away unnecessary fouls. The Phoenix in turn, however, failed to convert on any of the opportunities the Flames handed to them, and ten minutes went by without a game winning goal.
The game came at its closest to ending two minutes to play. A corner kick sent into the middle of the box was shot by freshman forward Jessica Carrieri, and the ball bobbled around the box until Jayroe somehow ended up with the ball. As the clock counted down, Carrieri tried to take one last shot that was blocked, and the game was over.
The Phoenix will next play at the Hampton University Pirates (1-4) on Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.