JMU field hockey holds on for 3-2 victory over No. 12 Liberty | Sports


After scoring 21 goals in their last two games, the No. 12 Liberty Flames’ two-game win streak got cut short by JMU, 3-2. The sides are now even in their six meetings.

“We started out a little flat and we could have easily just said, ‘It’s one of those days,’ but we kept fighting, we kept trusting that we have the ability to win and we finished,” JMU field hockey head coach Christy Morgan said.

Liberty scored two goals just over 10 minutes into the game. With just under a minute left in the first quarter, JMU senior midfielder Emily Harrison scored her first of the game and second of the season, giving the Dukes a burst.

“Even though we were 2-0 down in the first minutes,” Harrison said, “it didn’t feel like it because there was so much energy on the field.”

Momentum changed in the second quarter, which saw the Dukes dominate in all categories. They outshot the Flames (3-1), were awarded one more corner (2-1) and by the end of the first half, had amassed a 3-2 lead.

Harrison scored the tying goal with just under two minutes remaining in the second quarter. JMU didn’t slow down, as just over a minute later senior forward Evelyn Zwager notched her second goal of the season to give the Dukes their first lead.

The Flames started the second half with pace, attempting to regain their lead. They had three shots in the third quarter and held the Dukes to none, although they still failed to find the net.

In the final quarter, JMU had five shots and were close on multiple occasions to extend its lead. Liberty played the final seven minutes without a goalkeeper in an attempt to gain more strength in numbers, but JMU survived the second half and kept its lead.

“They were getting more in their heads, and we kept playing our own game,” Zwager said. “They’re a highly ranked team, but we just played our game and stayed with that.”

The Dukes continue to emphasize the importance of connections between passer and receiver through long balls and creating space, Harrison said. This space also allowed JMU to succeed on counter attacks, she said, creating runs up the field and profiting from Liberty’s mistakes.

“We just capitalized on taking the balls, like, fast, with speed, because those are our strengths and just everyone moved as a unit, and I think that’s how we ended up scoring,” Harrison said. The constant movement of the team allowed the players in the back to always find a player open through space.”

Harrison said she felt this weekend was a “breakthrough point” for the team, as trust and awareness have never looked better after JMU’s win Friday versus William & Mary, followed up by the win Sunday.

Zwager said this was a win JMU’s waited on for a long time.

“We know we’re a great team and we had a couple tough losses that were so close, and just the anger inside of us that we want it so bad,” Zwager said. “I mean, it’s even [my] last year, so you want it even more — and it just fires you up.”

The Dukes improved their record to 5-3, their third win in a row. Their next game is Sept. 23 against Saint Francis.

Scoring Summary

Q1: 8:12- Liberty goal 07 (1), assisted by Daniella Rhodes, 1-0 Liberty

Q1: 10:07 – Liberty goal, Pima Iturraspe (2), Liberty 2-0

Q1: 14:30 – JMU goal Emily Harrison (2), assisted by Cassidy Strittmatter, 2-1 Liberty

Q2: 28:13 – JMU goal Emily Harrison (3), 2-2

Q2: 29:25 – JMU goal Evelyn Zwager (2), 3-2 JMU

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