LYNCHBURG, Va. Host Liberty netted the game winner with just over a minute left in double overtime to top Charlotte 1-0 in non-conference women’s soccer action Thursday afternoon.
In a contest in which both teams had several chances and with the match seemed destined for a draw, the Flames’ Jennifer Knoebel decided the outcome at 108 minutes, 51 seconds, when she drove down the right side and snuck a shot just inside the near post.
Late in the first half, the 49ers had an opportunity when preseason All-Conference USA selection Amanda Jones sent a ball from left to right across the field, only to have Liberty (2-2) goalkeeper Holly Van Noord collect the cross before any of Jones’ teammates could get a foot on it.
Charlotte (1-3) continued its momentum in the early stages of the second stanza with back-to-back corner kicks within the first 90 seconds. Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Monica Trickett was able to place her head on the second set piece, but her shot sailed high over the crossbar.
Niners goalkeeper Annika McHenry, who finished with seven saves, kept her team in it with several key stops. Her efforts, combined with the 49ers’ defense, allowed eight shots on goal among the 26 overall attempts for the Flames.
Brittany Aanderud nearly put Liberty ahead in the 64th minute when she weaved through, but found a stone wall of Charlotte defenders waiting to send the ball the opposite direction. Knoebel created a look from eight yards out with just over a minute remaining in the first overtime period, but McHenry and the Niners backline did not let the shot penetrate deeper.
For Charlotte, Jones nearly fired an attempt between the pipes, but it went just wide following a corner kick from redshirt senior Jennifer Lee in the 54th minute. Jones was disruptive again after receiving a pass from freshman Martha Thomas, who side-stepped her defender before sending the pass to the 49ers’ senior on the right flank.
Thomas broke free for a shot along the right side, just a minute into the first overtime frame. The rookie was at it again early in the second extra session, locating junior Tori Fubara. Fubara was able to one-touch the pass but her shot was quickly absorbed by a charging Van Noord.
Before the game-winning goal, Alanna Dunkle found herself wide open on the left side and raced towards the Niners’ cage. Charlotte’s defense quickly recovered, preventing a clean shot opportunity and forcing Dunkle to send her shot into the side netting.
Jones and Thomas shared the team lead with three shots apiece, while Dunkle (eight) and Aanderud (six) led the Flames with eight and six.
The 49ers travel to Clemson for a 6 p.m. Sunday match.
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