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Lady Flames Drop Road Contest at Vanderbilt
Liberty attacker Sam Struss notched her third career hat trick, but it was not enough as the Lady Flames fell on the road against the Vanderbilt Commodores, 20-8, on Saturday afternoon.
Liberty drops its second match of the season to fall to 0-2, while Vanderbilt improves to 2-1 on the year.
The Commodores took the first draw of the game and raced down the field, scoring a mere 13 seconds into the contest.
Liberty responded with the equalizer just over three minutes later. Struss notched the first of her three markers with 26:35 showing on the game clock.
Vanderbilt pulled ahead with a five-goal spurt, beginning at the 23:33 mark of the first half, to go ahead 6-1. Alexa Kunowsky and Jill Doherty each added two scores during the run.
The game tightened up over the final 15 minutes of the opening stanza. Kallie Britton recorded the Lady Flames' second marker of the contest to pull the team within four at 6-2. With the rest of the team clearing out at the top of the arc, Britton rolled around from behind the cage and fired the ball past the Commodores' goalkeeper.
After Kunowsky tallied her third score of the contest, Liberty's Courtney Brown notched her second goal of the season on a free-position attempt at 11:15.
The Commodores once again upped their lead to five goals when Mackenzie Smith scored off of a Kelly Chandler assist with 6:37 showing on the first-half game clock.
In the final minutes of the opening period, Lady Flames goalkeeper Kristen Masullo made several key saves, allowing Liberty to chip away at the Vanderbilt advantage. Struss then tallied a free-position goal with just over 5:00 minutes remaining. The Evans City, Pa., native's second score of the contest trimmed the Commodores' lead to 8-4.
Liberty freshman Michaela Rich recorded her first career goal just seconds before the break. Britton assisted on the play as the game went to halftime with Vanderbilt leading, 8-5.
The Commodores seized control of the game's momentum with another 5-0 run to open the second half.
Alyssa Kidder ended the Vanderbilt run with a goal with just over eight minutes elapsed in the stanza. Kidder's second marker of the year made the score, 13-6.
After three more goals for the Commodores increased their lead to 16-6, Struss capped her hat trick with another free-position goal at 13:26.
Vanderbilt outscored Liberty, 4-1, over the remaining minutes of the contest. The Lady Flames' final tally of the contest came from Britton. Nina Dunay passed out of a free-position attempt, setting up Britton's third score of the season.
The Commodores' last score came with 1:17 remaining before the final horn, setting up the final tally of 20-8 in favor of the home team.
Vanderbilt held the statistical edge in shots, 39-20, ground balls, 30-14, draw controls, 18-12, and caused turnovers, 10-3.
Britton and Dunay paced the Lady Flames with three ground balls apiece, while Morgan Becker corralled a team-high six draw controls.
In goal, Masullo notched 13 saves for Liberty, while Maddie Kratz stopped seven shots for Vanderbilt.
Liberty returns to the field with a midweek contest on Tuesday at No. 18 Navy. First draw is scheduled for 4 p.m.