A dominant outing from the fourth-seeded Liberty lacrosse team propelled them to a 20-13 victory over fifth-seeded Longwood in a quarterfinal game of the 2017 Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship, Saturday at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.
Kayla Foster and Brianna McCaffrey both set new career highs with five goals apiece, while Big South Freshman of the Year Carly White recorded a four-goal, three-assist game in a winning effort.
With the win, the Lady Flames (6-12) advance to the semifinals of the Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship, where they will face top seed and host High Point (13-3), Friday at 4 p.m. at Vert Stadium in High Point, N.C.
"I'm incredibly proud of this group and how they worked and prepared for this game. We've been locked in and focused all week, and it showed today," said Liberty Lacrosse Head Coach Kelly Nangle. "We executed and took care of the gaps of the game, we kept our composure and played a full 60 minutes. We are excited to be playing in May and to get back to work this week!"
The Lancers (7-11) see their 2017 season come to an end, as Liberty was victorious in both matchups between the two squads, this spring. Cassie Angeles paced the visitors with four goals, while Kaitlin Luccarelli recorded a hat trick and two assists.
Liberty took command of the contest from the opening whistle, beginning the afternoon on a 4-1 run. The Lady Flames' Lindsey McNamara forced the Lancers' Riley Dolan into a turnover early in the contest and scooped up the ground ball. The ball eventually found the stick of senior Courtney Brown, who fed Foster for her first tally of the day, giving Liberty a 1-0 lead with 28:06 to play in the half.
White buried her first goal of the day, assisted by Paige Britton, to push the Liberty lead to 2-0 at the 25:24 mark. Following a goal from Longwood's Stephanie Roberts, White scored back-to-back tallies to reach a hat trick in just 8:32. Her third goal of the day came with a defender draped on her and put the hosts ahead, 4-1, with 21:28 left in the opening stanza.
The Lancers scored two of the next three goals, as Andie deCelis (free-positon shot) and Kaitlin Luccarelli brought the deficit down to two, 5-3, with 15:34 on the first half clock.
The Lady Flames distanced themselves again from the Lancers, this time with a 4-0 spurt, including goals from Foster (2), Brown (1) and Paige Britton (1). Britton's tally, her 22nd of the season and seventh in two games versus Longwood this season, staked Liberty to a 9-3 lead with 7:47 left in the half.
Longwood's Angeles delivered a pair of goals while Dolan scored her first of the day to bring the visitors back within three, 9-6, with 3:07 left in the first stanza.
Freshman Grace Fletcher, who had been thwarted on a couple of occasions by Lancers' goalkeeper Imani West, including on a breakaway attempt, finally found the back of the net with 2:00 remaining in the half. After Fletcher was fouled by Corri Calandra, the Commonwealth native calmly fired a low strike from a free-position spot past West for her 18th goal of the year. Fletcher's goal sent the Lady Flames into the break with a 10-6 edge.
Liberty redshirt sophomore Kaitlyn Cassidy-Fischetti provided a spark off the bench for the Lady Flames in the early stages of the second half. Following White's fourth goal of the day to put Liberty up five (11-6), the native of New Jersey found McCaffrey for a goal.
Following the assist, Cassidy-Fischetti scored the next two markers, her sixth and seventh of the season. Her second goal of the day, which came off a Paige Britton pass, provided Liberty a 14-6 lead with 22:57 left in the match. Britton found a cutting Cassidy-Fischetti, who received the pass and buried a shot into the top left corner.
Back-to-back tallies from Molly Barkman and Angeles narrowed the gap to 14-8 at the 20:18 marker. The Lady Flames answered with a 3-1 run, aided by a pair of tallies from McCaffrey, who scored all five of her goals after intermission. The first goal McCaffrey run was a backhanded shovel shot in heavy traffic.
McCaffrey's second goal in that stretch came after she forced Maddie Rollins to turn the ball over near the sideline. Once the sophomore received possession, she darted into the Lancers' zone and ripped a shot from inside the eight-meter arc past West, pushing the Liberty lead to 17-8 with 13:36 to go.
Longwood outscored Liberty, 5-3, during the final 10:36 of play, highlighted by goals from Luccarelli (2), Angeles (1), Lexi Davis (1) and Barkman (2).
Liberty's last three markers came from McCaffrey (2) and Foster. Foster's fifth and final goal of the day came on a powerful forehand shot with 3:19 remaining, while McCaffrey forced Hollyn Royster into a turnover in her own zone.
She collected the ensuing ground ball and notched her fifth goal of the day and team-leading 36th of the year with 1:35 left to bump the lead to 20-12.
Luccarrelli's final tally of the day, her 38th of the season, settled the final score at 20-13 in favor of Liberty
Liberty goalkeepers Katherine Widrick (5-7) and Aubrie Tarris split time in net for the home side. Widrick was credited with her fifth win of the year. Both goalies made one save apiece. Imani West (6-9) recorded 12 saves in goal but was saddled with the loss.
The Lady Flames outshot the Lancers, 46-17, on the day. The 17 shots by Longwood were the fewest Liberty has allowed in any game, this season, while Liberty's 46 shots were the third-most for the team in 2017. Liberty also held advantages in both ground balls (27-14), caused turnovers (18-9) and draw controls (18-17). White played a big role in that, scooping up a game-best six ground balls, recording a game-high four caused turnovers, and winning a team-high three draws.
White matched career highs for goals (4) and points (7) on Saturday afternoon. The native of Marietta, Ga., has totaled 37 points (23 g, 14 a) in her last nine contests.
Should No. 4 Liberty defeat No. 1 High Point on Friday, they would advance to the Big South title game for the second time in program history.
In the other half of the bracket, No. 2 Campbell (9-7) is still awaiting the winner of No. 3 Winthrop (8-9) vs. No. 6 Radford (6-10), which will be contested tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Eagle Stadium in Rock Hill, S.C. Campbell will face either Winthrop or Radford at 7 p.m., Friday night at Vert Stadium, with the winner earning a berth in the championship game.
The Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship title game will be held on May 7 at noon at Vert Stadium in High Point, N.C. and will be broadcast live on ESPN3.