An early first half scoring run by Virginia Tech propelled the Hokies to a narrow 15-11 victory over Liberty, Friday evening, at Liberty Lacrosse Field.
The Lady Flames drop their season opener to fall to 0-1, while the Hokies improve to 1-0 to begin the season. Liberty is now 0-5 all-time against the Hokies, despite battling until the very end of the contest.
Virginia Tech was quick to open up the scoring for the contest with Kristine Loscalzo netting the first goal at the 28:55 mark of the first stanza. The Hokies' leading goal scorer from a year ago, Megan Will, extended the Virginia Tech lead to 2-0 when she scored off of a free position shot three minutes later.
The Lady Flames quickly answered with a strike of their own when 2014 leading scorer Sam Struss picked up where she left off last year, netting Liberty's first goal of the season to pull within one in the fifth minute of play.
The Hokies tacked on two more goals in a span of four minutes to take the 4-1 lead, including Will's second of the contest.
Freshman Katy Pridemore notched an even strength goal during the ninth minute of competition to pull the Lady Flames back to within two. The Vero Beach, Fla. native pirouetted around the defender before zipping the ball into the back of the net.
Virginia Tech responded with three more goals to stretch the lead to five, the first goal which came from the stick of Will, for her third goal of the opening frame.
Following a strategic timeout from second year head coach Kelly Nangle, Liberty went on a 3-0 run of its own to pull back to within two goals. It was Pridemore who started the spurt for the Lady Flames, netting her second goal of the contest at the 9:15 mark.
Struss capitalized on a Hokie turnover, muscling her way through the defense for a rip at the net. Struss' shot found the back of the frame to pull the Lady Flames to within three.
Co-captain Nina Dunay placed Liberty back in striking distance, netting a free position goal, her first of the season. Dunay's goal put the redshirt senior at the century mark as the only Lady Flame with 100 career goals in program history.
The opening stanza ended on a 2-1 Hokie advantage, with Struss capping off a strong first half following her third goal.
After the intermission, the two teams duked it out back on the field, trading blow for blow. Will opened the scoring for the Hokies for her fourth goal of the contest.
Struss answered the call, netting her fourth goal of the match nearly two minutes later to pull back Liberty to within three.
The Lady Flames surrendered two unanswered goals, falling behind 12-7 with 24:17 left in the contest.
After a second strategic timeout by Nangle, the Lady Flames went on their second three-goal spurt to pull back to within two. Once again, it was Pridemore who began the run for the red and blue. The freshman was granted the free position shot, which she capitalized on for the afternoon hat trick with 16:13 remaining in the contest.
Liberty midfielder Courtney Brown secured her first goal of the season after the Lady Flames were granted another free position attempt, chipping away at the Hokie lead.
Sophomore attacker Michaela Rich netted her first goal of the season with the assist from Pridemore. Following the draw control by Paige Britton, Liberty held onto the ball, waiting for the opportune time to strike. Pridemore dumped the ball off to Rich who was streaking to the goal. Rich corralled the ball and ripped a shot past Meagh Graham to bring the Lady Flames to within two.
After a Hokie timeout, Virginia Tech extended the lead back to three, 13-10, following a goal from Meg Bartley.
Struss capped off the Liberty scoring, with her fifth goal of the contest in the 53rd minute of play. Struss's fifth goal tied a single-game career high for the senior.
The Hokies tacked on two more goals to solidify the 15-11 victory over the resurging Lady Flames.
For the contest, Virginia Tech held a 37-20 shots advantage, as well as, a 20-12 groundball edge.
In between the pipes, Lady Flames' goalkeeper Juliann Elmer notched 14 saves compared to eight for Graham.
Liberty returns to action next Friday when its plays host to Navy at Liberty Lacrosse Field. The contest is slated to begin at 3 p.m.