McCaffrey scored a game-high four goals in Liberty's 14-7 victory at Mercer on Saturday.
A dominating second half lifted visiting Liberty to a 14-7 win in its season opener at Mercer, Saturday at Five Star Stadium.
The Lady Flames controlled the action throughout the second stanza, breaking a 4-4 halftime tie by outscoring their foes 10-3 after the intermission.
Liberty improves to 1-0 with the win, while Mercer falls to 0-1.
Brianna McCaffrey paced the Flames with a game-high four goals, while Hannah Quast added three markers. Jenna Joyal, Michaela Rich and Kayla Foster each scored twice, while Mia Toscano added two assists. Mercer's Erica Coyne led the team with three goals.
Liberty junior goalkeepers Katherine Widrick (1-0) and Aubrie Tarris each played a half in net. Widrick was credited with the victory, making five saves against three goals after coming in to start the second half. Tarris notched five saves while surrendering four goals in the first half. Mercer's Iseabal Cryne (0-1) made 10 saves and yielded 14 goals in a losing effort.
"I am really proud of our team and the effort they gave today. They never stopped working and played through every situation," said Liberty Women's Lacrosse Head Coach Kelly Nangle. "This was a great win against a tough opponent, and we are excited to get back to work and prepare for North Carolina, next Sunday."
Liberty held sizeable advantages in shots (38-21), draw controls (17-6) and ground balls (28-20). The Lady Flames' Foster snagged a game-high eight draw controls, tied for the fifth most in a single game in program history. Foster accomplished the same feat in a win at Butler on Feb. 12, 2017.
The Lady Flames took the lead for good with 27:01 remaining in the second half on a goal from redshirt senior Michaela Rich. After Carly White won a draw control, she raced into the Mercer zone up the right side and found an open Rich just outside the eight-meter arc.
Rich received White's pass and fired a rocket into the right side of the goal past Bears goalkeeper Cryne, giving Liberty a 6-5 advantage it never relinquished.
Rich's first goal of the game spurred a 5-0 run that put Liberty in front, 9-5, with 14:55 remaining in the game. During the stretch, Rich scored again, while the Lady Flames also received goals from McCaffrey, Jenna Joyal and Hannah Quast.
Mercer's Lindsey Zeltwanger scored on a free-position attempt with 9:40 left to bring the hosts to within three (9-6), but Liberty distanced itself from the Bears with a 3-0 run, capped off by a Quast free-position marker. Quast's tally with 5:32 to play made the score 12-6 in favor of the Lady Flames.
Liberty's final two goals of the afternoon came from Abby Britton (free position) and McCaffrey. McCaffrey's goal with 1:48 to play, her fourth of the game, settled the final score at 14-7.
In the opening stages of the first half, the Lady Flames controlled play and recorded six shots in the first 3:32. However, the Bears scored the first two goals of the game, both on eight-meter shots (Lindsey Zeltwanger, Coyne).
Quast scored Liberty's first goal of the game on a feed from Toscano, and Joyal tied the game at 2-2 with 20:49.
Mercer scored twice (Kate Leone, Coyne) in the middle of the half, regaining a 4-2 advantage. Liberty went nearly 20 minutes between goals but closed the first half with a flourish. Foster buried a shot in the top right corner with 54 seconds left, while McCaffrey scored 18 seconds later to send the match into halftime tied at 4-4.
Rich paced the Lady Flames with a team-high 10 shots, while McCaffrey added eight shots to go along with a team-best four ground balls. Mercer's Cryne also scooped up four ground balls to tie for game-high honors.
Saturday's win marked Liberty's first season-opening triumph since 2013 (Feb. 10 at Stetson). The Lady Flames are now 3-6 in season openers.
Liberty will play its next game on Feb. 18 at No. 3 North Carolina (0-1). First draw is slated for noon at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.
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