Speed, penalties kill Chanticleers as Flames improve to 4-0
March 3, 2013 | Conway, S.C.
Speed is a factor that usually plays in the favor of Liberty University's men's lacrosse team.
The Flames flaunted that advantage and cruised past Coastal Carolina on its home field Sunday afternoon, sprinting by the Chanticleers on transition and finishing lightning-quick scoring runs on goal in a 19-6 victory.
"One of the things that separates our program from others we'll be playing this year is our speed," Liberty head coach Kyle McQuillan said. "It's one of those things you can't necessarily stop, but only try to contain. If you can't match someone else's speed, they're just going to run around you."
The Flames (4-0) were expecting a physical confrontation from Coastal (2-3) and they got one Sunday, but they simply ran circles around the Chanticleers on attack and again relied on their defense and goalie Ethan Kamholtz, who has only allowed 6.25 goals per game.
"Coastal was much more aggressive, playing very tight man-to-man and not giving us a whole lot of room to breathe," McQuillan said. "But as hard as they were playing and as aggressive as they were, they were not very successful. They just couldn't keep up with our guys. Speed was the demise of Coastal."
As a result of their ineffectiveness in defending the Flames, the Chanticleers resorted to illegal tactics to try to keep Liberty's attackmen in check, which proved to be an approach that backfired.
"What happens and what we saw happen today is teams start try to counteract, do things to slow us down, with slashing or cross-checking or illegal picks," McQuillan said. "Coastal spent quite a bit of time in the penalty box. In lacrosse, if you don't have positioning on the player you're defending, you are a lot more susceptible to penalties."
Early in the contest, Coastal put itself in a bind when one of its defenders picked up a three-minute unreleasable penalty on a dead-ball stick check when the pocket was found to be too deep. Liberty repeatedly capitalized on the three-minute power play to seize a 5-1 lead that it would never relinquish.
"You always want to score on your man-up opportunities," McQuillan said. "On a three-minute time period, we were able to put four goals in and really kind of separate from them early. That was five minutes into the game and we never played from behind."
Liberty led 6-2 after the first quarter, extending it to 9-3 by halftime and 15-5 by the end of the third quarter.
Freshman attack Ryan Miller was the Flames' points leader with seven goals and two assists, followed closely by junior attack Kurt Tobias (four goals, two assists) and junior midfielder Derek Haywood, who added one goal and four fantastic assists.
Senior long stick middie Michael Zumpano sparked several Flames' fast breaks with seven ground-ball pickups.
"He had a great game clearing the ball, playing great defense," McQuillan said. "We were able to transition from defense to offense extremely quickly due to his efforts."
Junior defender Nate Lowmaster anchored the interior post defense, picking up five ground balls, and Kamholtz finished with a season-high 28 saves in goal.
"We have a lot of faith in our goalkeeper and he played pretty well," McQuillan said. "He's making a lot of waves and getting a lot of recognition around the league. A lot of their goals came off of man-up opportunities or just some breakdowns for us defensively."
Including Saturday's 14-8 win at Savannah (Ga.), the Flames yielded just 14 goals in two games this weekend.
"A goal for the team is not to allow another team score double-digits, regardless of the quality of our opponent," McQuillan said. "We're a well-balanced team, but our style of play is to be aggressive and play defense, take the lead early and protect that lead for the entirety of the game."
Liberty is next scheduled to host Tennessee Wesleyan in a "Black Out" game set to start Wednesday at midnight and finish early Thursday morning at its Lacrosse Complex. But forecasts could potentially make that contest a "White Out" instead.
"We're supposed to be getting a whole bunch of snow that night," McQuillan said. "We've got the field and the ability to play through some weather and cold, but we can't play through snow on the ground. I want to keep it the same time (and) unless there is enough snow on the ground that we can't see the field, we're going to play it. We're going to do everything we can."