HPU Women’s Soccer Wins Fifth Big South Championship

• High Point clinched its fifth Big South Championship in penalty kicks, advancing past Liberty, 5-4, after tying with the Flames, 2-2.
• Freshman Alex Persiani made two penalty kick saves and redshirt-freshman Bailey Beattie scored in the sixth round to clinch the conference title.
• Freshman Bri Jean-Charles scored in the 87th minute for HPU to tie the game at 2-2.

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The High Point University women’s soccer team won its fifth Big South Women’s Soccer Championship on Sunday, Nov. 9, in Greensboro, North Carolina, advancing past top-seeded Liberty in penalty kicks, 5-4, after playing to a 2-2 draw.

High Point trailed, 2-1, in the 87th minute when senior Jacky Kessler found freshman Bri Jean-Charles in the box for the game-tying goal. Kessler controlled a goal kick at the left corner of the box and fed a through ball to Jean-Charles, who was making a diagonal run into the box. The freshman dribbled around the LU keeper and slotted her shot into the empty net to tie the game at 2-2 and force overtime.

The Panthers and Flames remained knotted at 2-2 after two overtime periods forcing penalty kicks to decide the championship. It was the fifth time that HPU has gone to PKs in six Big South Championship appearances.

Both teams were successful in the first three rounds of penalty kicks as freshmen Becca Rolfe and Paige Rombach and redshirt-freshman Meghan Beidleman all converted for HPU.

Freshman Alex Persiani made a diving save in the fourth round for High Point, but senior Jacky Kessler’s kick was also saved by Liberty’s Holly Van Noord to keep the two teams tied at 3-3. Liberty’s Jaime Bouffard and freshman Paige Lloyd both converted in the fifth round and the contest moved on to sudden death kicks.

Persiani made a diving fingertip save in the sixth round setting the stage for redshirt-freshman Bailey Beattie who converted her attempt to deliver the Big South Championship to High Point.

The Big South Championship is the fifth in HPU program history. The Panthers are tied for most conference titles in the Big South along with Radford. High Point previously won the conference championship in 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Liberty took an early 1-0 lead less than four minutes after the opening whistle on a shot from 25-yards out by Brittany Aanderud. The Flames’ midfielder dribbled into space outside the box and hit a hard shot back across her body just inside the left post for the score.

The Panthers battled back and tied the game at 1-1 in the 21st minute on a goal by freshman Meredith Dunker. The forward controlled a back pass by the Liberty defense and dribbled into space 15 yards from goal before hitting a shot from the left side into the top right corner.

Following halftime, Liberty retook the lead with a goal by Madison Kauzlarich to put the Flames ahead, 2-1, in the 48th minute. Helena Pereira found space on the right side of the field and hit the ball across the face of goal. HPU missed on a clearance chance and the ball fell to the feet of Kauzlarich who shot it inside the near post.

The Flames finished the game with a 19-10 edge in shots and a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal. Persiani and freshman Jordan Beets combined to save 10 shots with Persiani stopping six and Beets stopping four. Beets played in the second half and overtime and earned the draw, moving to 5-3-3 on the season. Van Noord made four saves and ended the season with a 14-4-2 record.

High Point moves to 12-4-4 on the season with the tie while Liberty moves to 14-4-2.

The Panthers will move on to play in the 2014 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship tournament for the fifth time in program history. High Point’s opponent will be announced on the NCAA Women’s Soccer Selection Show, which will be streamed live on NCAA.com on Monday, Nov. 10, at 4:30 p.m.