Kristin Crowley increased her season goal total to 26 with two tallies in the opening round of the NLC tournament against Jacksonville.
After concluding its inaugural regular season last Saturday, the Liberty lacrosse team (1-12, 1-5 NLC) entered the National Lacrosse Conference (NLC) Tournament as the No. 6 seed, squaring off with No. 3 seed Jacksonville (7-10, 4-2 NLC) on Friday at Longwood. The Lady Flames kept it close with an early rally in the opening 15 minutes, but the Dolphins eventually pulled away to earn a 24-8 decision and advance in the tournament.
Three Lady Flames finished with two goals apiece on the day – Kristin Crowley (So., Colorado Springs), Sierra Clearwater (So., Mechanicsville, Md.) and Lauren See (Fr., Strasburg, Pa.), while midfielders Chloe McIntosh (So., Dallas Texas) and Anna Starling (So., Dallas, Texas.) finished with one score each.
Jacksonville's Ellen Spangenberg was the game's leading scorer with four goals, followed by Cassie Campasano and Amanda Hurley with three each.
The No. 3 seed Dolphins looked to create distance early, scoring a quartet of tallies in the opening four minutes to take a 4-0 lead. Jacksonville's Sarah Michel capped off the opening run, placing a shot past goalie Rebekah Luetters at 26:26.
Liberty rallied over the next 6:07, posting three consecutive goals to trim the deficit to one, 4-3, at 20:18. Starling sparked the Lady Flames' offensive attack, as she netted an unassisted goal at 25:54 to give Liberty its first goal of the game. Starling helped alter the scoreboard again 4:30 later, feeding it to Crowley, who capitalized on the pass to cut Jacksonville's advantage to two.
Crowley, Liberty's leading scorer, completed the 3-0 burst at 20:18, as she fired a shot past Karli Tobin for an unassisted goal. The attacker's tally marked her 26th goal on the season.
Following Liberty's scoring spurt, the Dolphins responded, as Brie Kitchelt found the net on a free position attempt to put Jacksonville back up by a pair, 5-3. After four scoreless minutes, the Lady Flames again made it a one-goal game at 15:42, when Clearwater connected on a free position shot of her own to make it 5-4. With the eight-meter marker, Clearwater reached double-digits on the year, netting her 10th goal this season.
The midfielder's tally was the last of the period for Liberty, as the Dolphins rattled off 10 unanswered goals to make it 15-4 at halftime.
In the second stanza, Liberty lit up scoreboard first, when McIntosh picked up her eighth goal of the year at 28:43. After the midfielder's marker made it 15-5, Campasano netted a tally to regain an 11-point lead for Dolphins, 16-5, at 27:33.
Following the Jacksonville goal, Clearwater answered for the Lady Flames, finishing a pass from to give Liberty its sixth goal of the game, at 20:48.
After two-straight Jacksonville goals upped the Dolphins' lead to 18-6, Hornick provided another helper, this time feeding it to See for the finish. See's 12th goal on the year made it 18-7 with 14:08 remaining in the contest. Jacksonville tacked on two more goals to boost its lead to 20-7 with 10:18 left on the clock. Following the Dolphin tallies, See reemerged at 7:31, netting an unassisted goal to make it 20-8 and round out Liberty's scoring effort on the day. Jacksonville closed out the contest with four additional goals down the stretch for the 24-8 final.
Liberty will continue play in the consolation bracket, as it squares off with Howard on Saturday. The Lady Flames own a victory over the tournament's No. 7 seed this season, after edging the Bison in the nation's capital, 17-16 in overtime, on March 6. The opening draw for tomorrow's rematch is slated for 10 a.m.