Mar 30, 2010

Central Connecticut too much for Lady Flames

by Daniel Martinez

One of Liberty University’s newest Division I teams, women’s lacrosse, had a particularly brutal week with four losses last week, including one at home in front of several dozen fans at Osborne Stadium.

This Lady Flames team has only been in existence since August, gained most of its players via an open tryout in September and has only been playing actual games since March 3, yet on Friday, March 26 the game was certainly an event. The game was covered by Liberty Athletics, had its own announcer and soundtrack, and had the fans – which toughed out cloudy, windy, wet conditions – who cheered on the team, booed the referees and were entertained by Sparky the school mascot.

Liberty’s team went into that contest against the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils in the wake of a nasty road trip to Loretto, Pa., where they lost 21-0 to the UC-Davis Aggies on Monday, and 16-5 to the St. Francis Red Flash on Tuesday.

Looking to rebound from their road woes (they carried a 1-6 record into the game), the Lady Flames looked good early, erasing a 2-0 CCSU lead with scores from freshman attacker Lauren See and sophomore team captain Kristin Crowley.

“(Before the game) we talked a lot about how we’ve been a second-half team,” Head Coach Regan Denham said. “I think (today) the girls really wanted to show me we can be a first-half team.”

That they did, keeping stride with the Blue Devils, plunging across the mud-slicked, wet field for every loose ball, contesting every pass and possession, and erasing subsequent CCSU leads of 3-2 and 5-3. However, they gave up three quick goals in the closing minute of the half, allowing the Blue Devils to seize an 8-5 lead.

Unfortunately for the Lady Flames, the second half looked more like the last minute of the first half rather than the first 29, as CCSU ran away, at one point shredding the Liberty defense for seven unanswered goals in about eight minutes en route to a dominant 21-9 victory.

“They did a really good job of getting the draws and getting a fast-break down from the draw,” Crowley said of CCSU, which had five players get at least three goals in the contest. “(They kept) getting that open girl for shooting.”

It was just the Lady Flames second-ever home game, following a March 20 loss to Anne Arundel.

Crowley led the home team with five goals, tying CCSU’s Ashley Perkoski for the game high, and attacker Karen Yates, playing in her Senior Day game, added two scores.

Following that game, the Lady Flames hit the road again, heading up to New Rochelle, N.Y., to play the Iona Gaels. That game started at noon on Sunday.

Unlike Friday’s game, where the girls were encouraged by the home support, the Lady Flames were unable to muster much of a defense against the Gaels, falling by 15 goals in a 20-5 disappointment.

Crowley and Yates provided all the scores for Liberty, with the team captain scoring four times and the senior adding one.
While it was an action-filled week for the Lady Flames – they played four games in seven days – the disappointing results made it a long one, leaving them with a 1-8 record with two weeks between them and their next game, an April 10 contest against the Davidson Wildcats.

After Friday’s loss, Denham said, “Part of our problem was our numbers.”

And while that was descriptive of the loss to CCSU, that encompasses part of the problem for the Lady Flames in their inaugural season.

Lacrosse is a team sport, one that, as Denham said, usually sees teams of 25 or 30 players, and, with only 12 players (including the goalie) on the field at one time, is able to substitute on the fly, similar to sports like hockey and soccer. But with just 16 players, “fresh legs” are hard to come by, leaving some Lady Flames playing all 60 minutes of a game that requires near-constant running.

“I think the girls just pushed it until (they) didn’t have anymore,” Denham said of Friday’s game.

Fatigue has thus been a factor in their games, as has inexperience — Crowley is the only member of the current team to have played at a Division-I level before, and only a handful of the others even have competitive high school experience — but good things are on the horizon.

“We already have eight girls that are signed with us for next year, and we have a couple more we’re waiting for answers from,” Denham said. “It’s going to be really helpful to have more than 16 players on the sideline.”

Crowley said the team motto this year has been “build tradition.” Friday’s contest was proof that they have begun building. They may not have won, but with a fresh stadium and impressive turnouts, the Lady Flames lacrosse team looks to be another part of Liberty’s sports dynasty in the future.

Contact Daniel Martinez at
dpmartinez@liberty.edu


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