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No. 2 seed Liberty women's lacrosse will begin its journey for a Big South title on Friday evening, as the Lady Flames take on No. 3 seed Winthrop in the semifinals of the 2018 Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship.
First draw between the Lady Flames (13-4) and Eagles (13-5) is slated for 7 p.m. at Vert Stadium in High Point, N.C. Liberty is enjoying its most successful year in program history with 13 wins and posted a 6-1 mark in conference play to earn the No. 2 seed and a bye into the semifinal round.
Meanwhile, Winthrop finished 5-2 in the league in drawing the No. 3 seed. The Eagles defeated Longwood, 22-6, in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals.
The winner of Friday night's contest will move on to face either No. 1 seed High Point (15-2), the host site of the tournament, or No. 4 seed Campbell (9-9) in the championship on Sunday at noon. The Panthers and Camels will square off at 4 p.m., Friday, prior to the Liberty-Winthrop contest.
Series History vs. Winthrop/History in BSC Championship Liberty is 2-5 all-time against Winthrop but defeated the Eagles, 12-11, on Senior Day on April 14 in perhaps the most exciting game of the season. In that contest, freshman midfielder Mia Toscano scored the game-winning goal with 3:31 left, and junior Katherine Widrick saved a shot from the nation's leading goal scorer, Nicole Beatson, with less than 10 seconds to play to preserve victory.
Sophomore Jenna Joyal paced the team with three goals in the contest, while Brianna McCaffrey and Toscano each tallied two goals. The win allowed the Lady Flames to finish unbeaten (7-0) at home for the first time in program history. Senior Abby Britton's behind-the-back goal in the second half garnered national attention.
The Lady Flames hold a 3-5 all-time record in the Big South Championship. They won two games in 2015 in making their only title game appearance in program history and defeated Longwood a year ago in the quarterfinals.
How to Follow the Lady Flames Live statistics, courtesy of High Point Communications, will be available for all three games (two semifinal, championship) over the weekend. On Friday, the Big South Network will be carrying the broadcast for the Liberty-Winthrop game. Sunday's championship match will be streamed live on ESPN3. Find the links for live stats and video on the Liberty women's schedule page on LibertyFlames.com
For live social media updates from Vert Stadium throughout the weekend, follow @libertywlax on Twitter and "libertywlax" on Instagram.
Lady Flames News and Notes
Scouting Winthrop The Eagles, who won conference titles in 2015 and 2016, are led by senior attacker Nicole Beatson. Beatson leads the nation in goals with 82 and broke the Big South single-season goals and points records, last Saturday against Longwood. Beatson is fifth in the country in points (101) for a Winthrop team that is 13th in DI in scoring offense (15.56).
Head coach Julika Blankenship's squad features four players with 50 or more points on the year. Kristen Shriver ranks fifth in the country in assists (50). The Eagles are 8-2 all-time in the Big South Championship and 1-0 versus Liberty.
Key offensive players: Nicole Beatson (82 g, 19 a, 101 pts), Kristen Shriver (29 g, 50 a, 79 pts), Katie Clark (43 g, 12 a, 55 pts), Katherine Judge (49 g, 3 a, 52 pts) Key defensive players: Mackenzie Cunningham (18 gb, 16 ct), Jordyn Elliot (17 gb, 15 ct) Goalkeeper: Alaina Girani (13-5, 11.51 GAA, .474 SV Pct. 164 SV)
The Rest of the Competition No. 1 High Point The Panthers are the defending Big South champions (and three-time Big South champion) and currently the No. 17/18 team in the country. High Point went unbeaten in Big South regular-season play for a second straight year and is 21-1 over the past three seasons in league play.
Head coach Lyndsey Boswell's squad has wins over No. 19 Duke and No. 21 Notre Dame, this season, and gave Liberty its lone loss in conference play (13-4 on April 7). The Panthers are No. 1 in the nation in free-position percentage (.569) and No. 2 in caused turnovers per game (12.71).
Key offensive players: Brooke Stevens (32 g, 45 a, 77 pts), Erica Perrotta (44 g, 24 g, 68 pts, 39 ct, 35 gb), Abby Hormes (51 g, 3 a, 54 pts) Key defensive players: Meredith Chapman (36 gb, 28 ct), Olivia Nostrant (32 gb, 26 ct) Goalkeeper: Jill Rall (14-2, 9.18 GAA, 86 SV, .428 SV Pct.)
No. 4 Campbell The Camels made their first appearance in a Big South title game last year against High Point. This year, head coach Dawn Easley's team went 4-3 in the conference, which included a 13-9 loss at home to Liberty in the two teams' regular-season finale, April 21.
Campbell's is No. 18 in the country in assists per game (6.50) and No. 19 in draw controls per game (15.17). Kayla Reilly is the Camels' top distributor with 52 assists (No. 3 in nation), including 11 in Campbell's quarterfinal win last Saturday versus Radford. Melissa Placek (64 goals, No. 10) and Mackenzie Koeller (60 goals, No. 12) are both in the top 12 in the country in total goals.
Key offensive players: Kayla Reilly (23 g, 52 a, 75 pts), Melissa Placek (64 g, 3 a, 67 pts), Mackenzie Koeller (60 g, 5 a, 65 pts) Key defensive players: Megan Reilly (44 gb, 28 ct), Amanda Chasin (36 gb, 18 ct) Goalkeeper: Sydney Etheridge (8-5, 12.01 GAA, 115 SV, .412 SV Pct.)