Lady Chants shock Liberty, earn home tourney game

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The Coastal Carolina women’s soccer team played its final home game of the regular season Friday night, but by knocking off first-place Liberty 1-0, the Chanticleers assured their five seniors one more contest at CCU Soccer Stadium.

One of those seniors, Kacey Kelley, provided the only goal in the 23rd minute and Coastal made it stand up defensively to clinch a home game in the first round of the Big South Tournament next weekend. The Chants improved to 9-7-2 overall and moved back into second place in the conference at 6-2-1.

The loss was the first Big South defeat for Liberty (11-4-1, 7-1-1), marking the third consecutive year that CCU has handed the league’s leader its first conference loss. In 2012, Coastal shut out High Point and last season the Chanticleers ended Radford’s long regular-season Big South win streak.

Coastal came out strong to start the match and controlled most of the possession for the first 20 minutes, keeping the ball in Liberty’s defensive half. The attack paid off with Kelley’s goal 11th goal of the season. Fellow senior Christina Stern sent the ball into the box on a long throw-in from the right side and a Liberty defender tried to clear it. However, it went right to Kelley in the middle and she ripped a shot from 15 yards into the top of the net for her 27th career marker.

The Flames finished the game with a 13-10 shot advantage, but Coastal doubled them up in attempts on goal, 6-3 and had a 3-2 edge in corner kicks. The clean sheet was the sixth of the season for CCU and fourth in their five conference home games.

Coastal improved to 15-1 in Big South games at home in the last three years and 8-1 in matches at CCU Soccer Stadium this season.

Prior to the game, Kelley, Stern and fellow seniors Shelby Evans, Rylie Johnson and Maddie Phillips were honored. The group was part of a team that won just two games their freshman year, but have totaled 29 victories over the final three years.

The Chants close out the regular season at Lowcountry rival Charleston Southern on Tuesday, Oct. 28, with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. CCU could still clinch a share of the regular-season title with a win and a Liberty loss to Longwood in its final game.  Either way, Coastal will play a Big South tourney game at home for the first time since 2006.

Photo courtesy of CCU Athletics

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