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2018 Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship Preview

May 3, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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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

  • The Lady Flames remain the best team in the nation in the caused turnover department. Liberty averages 14.29 caused turnovers per game and has nine games of 15 or more, this year (season high was 19 caused turnovers vs. PC, March 31).
  • Liberty is currently No. 37 in the NCAA Lacrosse RPI, its highest ranking in program history. The Lady Flames finished as the 87th-ranked team in the final RPI standings a year ago.
  • As a team, Liberty is No. 2 in the country in ground balls per game (24.06), No. 5 in shots per game (36.00), No. 9 in shots on goal per game (25.88), No. 15 in scoring defense (9.41), No. 15 in win percentage (.765), No. 20 in assists per game (6.41), No. 20 in scoring margin (4.24) and No. 20 in save percentage (.486). The Lady Flames are first in the Big South in caused turnovers per game, ground balls per game, shots per game and save percentage.
  • The Lady Flames matched a program record with seven Big South All-Conference selections in 2018: Brianna McCaffrey (first team), Carly White (first team), Kayla Foster (second team, All-Academic team), Lindsey McNamara (second team), Mia Toscano (second team), Michaela Rich (honorable mention) and Hannah Quast (honorable mention).
  • McCaffrey is No. 4 in the nation in caused turnovers per game (2.82) and No. 17 in ground balls per game (3.12) while leading the Lady Flames with 40 goals. She was a four-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week honoree, this season. The Boca Raton, Fla., native is the program's all-time leader in caused turnovers (90) and draw controls (181) and ranks seventh in school history with 93 goals.
  • On the offensive end, Liberty features a balanced attack, with eight players having 13 or more goals and seven players with 24 or more points. Foster leads the way with 62 points (25 g, 37 a), followed by: Rich (34 g, 15 a, 49 pts), McCaffrey (40 g, 7 a, 47 pts), White (25 g, 13 a, 38 pts), Jenna Joyal (24 g, 11 a, 35 pts), Quast (22 g, 5 a, 27 pts) and Toscano (14 g, 10 a, 24 pts).
  • Foster is No. 20 in the nation in assists with 37 and No. 21 in assists per game (2.18). She has 79 goals, 99 assists and 178 points in her first three seasons. Already the program's all-time leader in assists, Foster is just 10 points away from eclipsing Morgan Becker (187 points, 2012-15) for the most points in program history.
  • Liberty is the No. 2 seed in the Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship for the second time ever (other: 2015) but received a bye to the semifinal round for the first time ever.
  • In seven Big South contests, Liberty outscored its opposition, 110-62. Foster led the squad with 31 points on 11 goals and 20 assists. Rich paced the squad with 18 goals in conference play, while goalkeeper Katherine Widrick was 3-0 with a .560 save percentage and 42 saves against league competition. Widrick is 6-1 with a .548 save percentage in 17 games overall, while fellow goalkeeper Aubrie Tarris is 7-3 with 60 saves in 15 contests.

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.)