From Liberty Club Sports
By Ted Allen
Before Liberty University’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team swept West Virginia on Friday and Saturday nights at the LaHaye Ice Center, the Lady Flames’ ACHA Division II women recorded back-to-back victories over the Mountaineers’ DII women’s team, their first two wins at home this season.
Liberty (5-7-1), which came into the weekend series 3-3-1 on the road but 0-4 in the LIC this fall, finished the semester on a high note with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night before turning around and routing WVU by an 8-2 score the following morning. After starting the season 0-7-1, the Lady Flames have now won five games in a row heading into the Christmas break.
In Friday night’s opener, Liberty started the scoring with 13:47 left in the first period when graduate defenseman Sarah LaPorte launched a shot from near the blue line that slipped through a screen set by Lady Flames freshman forward Madison Conley just inside the lower left corner of the cage.
The Mountaineers tied it at 1-1 just 47 seconds later on head captain Sam Miller’s backhanded goal past Lady Flames freshman goalie Izzy Buckett. WVU seized a 2-1 lead midway through the second period on Emma Brannare’s high shot from the top of the right circle — set up by Miller’s faceoff win and assist — that glanced off the glove of Buckett.
Senior forward Delaney Adams netted the equalizer with a shot from the left circle with 4:41 remaining in the second period. Then, following a scoreless third period, LaPorte got the game-winner on a wrist shot from the slot just inside the lower right post with 1:43 left in the five-minute overtime for a 3-2 triumph.
In Saturday morning’s rematch, Adams started the scoring just 1:32 after the opening faceoff, skating wide through the left circle before firing a shot just inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, Ava Paddison knotted the score at 1-1 by beating Liberty sophomore goalie Alex Ritter with a shot from out in front.
LaPorte netted the game-winner at the 14:19 mark of the first period after starting a breakout from the defensive zone and maneuvering around a Mountaineers defenseman near the red line before unleashing a shot from inside the blue line that skipped off the stick and between the wickets of WVU goalie Alexa Rummel.
However, the Mountaineers responded again with the equalizer just 1:10 later when Ally Schwind stuck a point-blank backhand past Ritter after LaPorte blew a tire as she was pivoting to clear the puck.
With 6:33 left in the first, sophomore forward Amanda Varga, stationed in the right crease, tipped in LaPorte’s shot from the left circle for a 3-2 lead that proved to be the game-winning goal.
Just 1:48 later, with the Lady Flames on a power play, Conley doubled the lead to 4-2 with a shot from the top of the right circle before LaPorte capped the first-period scoring by skating around the inside edge of the left circle and firing a shot past replacement goalie Willow Herman for a 5-2 advantage.
Conley stretched the Liberty lead to 6-2 midway through the second period by putting away assists from Varga and senior forward Julia Hoffmeier at the 10:13 mark. Then, midway through the third, seconds after Ritter made a save of a breakaway opportunity by WVU, LaPorte completed her hat trick and extended Liberty’s lead to 7-2 by slamming home the rebound of her own blocked shot from in the left circle. Varga put the finishing touches on the 8-2 victory, skating between two Mountaineers on a fast break and slamming her shot past Herman.
The Lady Flames will be back in action when they travel to New Jersey to face Rowan University from Jan. 21-22 and Pennsylvania to play Montclair State on Jan. 23.
(Originally published at https://www.liberty.edu/club-sports/news/lady-flames-sweep-wvu-for-first-two-home-wins-end-semester-on-five-game-streak/)