PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Old Dominion field hockey team fell to Liberty, 3-1, in the Big East Tournament semifinals on Friday afternoon at Lennon Family Field in Providence, Rhode Island, ending the season for the Monarchs.
Old Dominion (8-10), the No. 3 seed, was unable to overcome a 2-0 halftime deficit and lost to Liberty (8-10), the No. 2 seed, for the second time this season. Erin Huffman scored the lone ODU goal.
"It is a tough loss and tough to end our season," said head coach Andrew Griffiths. "However, I am proud of how we fought together as a team. The players can feel good that they stayed together, and kept grinding right until the end."
The Flames quickly opened the scoring, as All-Big East selection Agueda Moroni tallied a goal in the fifth minute, before Moniek Van Aarle doubled the Liberty lead in the 26th minute.
The best scoring opportunity for the Monarchs in the opening half came in the 29th minute, when Mia Fucci's deflection off of a long pass from Danielle Grega nearly beat Liberty goalkeeper Allison Schaefer.
Liberty carried the 2-0 advantage into halftime and then extended its lead to three on Victoria O'Keefe's goal in the 47th minute.
"The game had some similarities to the last time we played Liberty," said Griffiths. "Three-quarters of the game was played up in our attacking end, but we had trouble creating clear cut opportunities early, as Liberty’s backs were protecting the circle effectively, diving, physical, flat sticks, and we can be stronger and smarter navigating around that kind of defensive play."
Trailing 3-0 with 20 minutes remaining, the Monarchs pushed numbers forward and outshot Liberty, 9-5, in the second half. Huffman finally put ODU on the board, finishing off a Grega cross in the 65th minute.
The Monarchs had a flurry of penalty corners and opportunities late, but were not able to trim the Liberty lead any further.
"Liberty was effective at taking advantage of their attacking opportunities when they had them, and we made a couple of key mistakes defensively to help them out," said Griffiths. "But, we came out really strong after halftime, and gave ourselves a good chance to get back into the game."
Overall, ODU held a 10-9 advantage in shots, while Liberty had five penalty corners to ODU's three.
"Despite the loss, we made good progress this season, I am proud of the team," said Griffiths. "I’m proud of the seniors, who gave great effort in their final game, and I’m also excited that we have a lot of young, talented players who are going to keep pushing us forward."
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