Amber Nichols led Liberty with three goals against Davidson on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Todd Drexler)
Despite a hat trick from senior captain Amber Nichols, No. 4 seed Liberty fell to top-seeded Davidson, 17-8, in the semifinals of the Big South Lacrosse Championship on Friday afternoon at Richardson Stadium. The Lady Flames conclude the season with an 8-10 overall record, marking the highest single-season win total in program history. Davidson improves to 11-6 and advances to Sunday's title game against the winner of No. 2 seed High Point and No. 3 seed Longwood.
The Wildcats jumped on the scoreboard quickly, scoring a pair of goals in the opening 45 seconds of the contest. Davidson added two more scores to extend its advantage to 4-0, forcing Liberty head coach Regan Denham to use a timeout with 4:20 expired in the first half.
Davidson pushed its advantage to 6-0, before Kacie Fogle tallied the Lady Flames' first marker of the game. The sophomore weaved through the Wildcats' defense and whipped a shot into the top-right corner of the goal to pull Liberty within five, 6-1.
Two more goals by Davidson made the score 8-1. The Wildcats' eighth tally came from Ann Fucigna. It was the junior's 50th goal of the season.
At the 15:57 mark of the first half, Nichols recorded her first marker of the game and Liberty's second of the contest, closing the deficit to six, 8-2.
The Wildcats ended the half on a 4-0 run, taking a 12-2 lead into the break.
The Lady Flames found the back of the net first, coming out of halftime. After a Morgan Becker shot hit the post, Liberty regained possession and worked the ball to Nina Dunay. The junior raced into the center of the arc and fired a shot into the top of the goal. Dunay's first score of the day cut the Davidson lead to nine, 12-3.
Nichols continued her strong play on the afternoon, notching a hat trick by scoring Liberty's next two goals of the contest. Davidson matched Nichols' scores with two of its own, making the score 14-5 in favor of the Wildcats with 19:36 remaining in the game.
Davidson recorded the game's next two scores, pushing its advantage to 11 goals, 16-5, with 14:15 left in the contest.
The Lady Flames outscored the Wildcats, 3-1, over the remaining minutes of the contest. Jen Freymond scored off of a Kallie Britton assist at the 7:15 mark. Liberty's final two tallies came from its top two scorers on the season. Dunay notched her second goal of the game, and 29th of the year, before Becker put her 28th marker of the season into the net at 1:26. Sam Struss assisted on both goals, giving her a team-best 21 helpers on the year. For the game, Liberty held the advantage in shots, 28-23, and draw controls, 17-10. The Wildcats held the edge in ground balls, 20-16, and caused turnovers, 6-3.
In goal, Liberty starter Kristen Masullo notched a pair of saves. Kristin Boland started the second half and tallied one save in over 10 minutes of action. Jessica Melby tallied nine stops in between the pipes for Davidson.