Flames torch NW Region rival Colonials, await WVU Sunday
February 28, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
Temperatures hovering above freezing at game time didn't keep Liberty University's men's lacrosse team from lighting up the scoreboard — and the flamethrowers behind it used to celebrate Flames' goals — early and often against SELC Northwest Region opponent George Washington, keeping players and fans on hand warm for Friday night's contest at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields.
Liberty (4-0) outshot its guests by a 50-15 margin, picked up 52 ground balls to 21 for GW, won 18 of 24 faceoffs, and showcased its second- and third-line attackmen and midfielders in an 18-2 triumph over the Colonials (1-3). It was the 100th victory in Flames Head Coach Kyle McQuillan's 10th season at the helm, since reviving the program in 2010.
|Sophomore faceoff specialist Cole Jankowsky helped the Flames win 18 of 24 draws against GW.|
Senior midfielder Derrick Esh ended a scoring drought of nearly eight minutes by firing a running shot from the center of the box at the 6:47 mark before Miller set up junior attack Thomas Pinel as he cut into the left crease for a short-range finish less than a minute later, extending Liberty's lead to 3-0.
Senior midfielder Noah Rude made it a 4-0 contest with 5.2 seconds left in the first quarter by bouncing a running shot from the top of the box. Miller then ignited the second-quarter scoring before senior middie Austin Aguilar fired a shot from the top right of the box and senior middie Carter Elliott stretched the lead to 7-0 at the 9:47 mark with a spinning shot from the top of the box.
Then, 8:30 before halftime, Rude fed a pass into Britton for a turn-around finish and an 8-0 advantage.
|Junior defender Mitchell Gorski picks up a ground ball and runs with it in Friday night's rout of the Colonials.|
Cameron Carter fed fellow sophomore midfielder Ryan O'Connor from the left side for a point-blank finish to extend the lead to 9-0 before Britton then took a pass from Elliott and completed his hat trick, pushing Liberty's commanding edge to 10-0 at the 2:38 mark. Aguilar stutter-stepped into the top of the right side of the box and rocketed his second goal of the game to make it 11-0 at the half.
GW junior attack John Psylios finally ended Flames senior goalie Ryan Reynolds' shutout bid with a sharp-angled shot from the right side with 13:51 remaining in the third quarter.
"The idea of a shutout in lacrosse is definitely tough to do with how open the game is and making all of the substitutions we were making and getting all of our guys in," McQuillan said. "Our big emphasis tonight was making sure we didn't allow goals on transition … or in the first 30 seconds of a possession, and we were able to do that."
After nearly a 10-minute scoreless stretch, Aguilar capped his hat trick by beating the 80-second shot clock by dashing into the box and fighting off a check before beating three Colonials defenders with a top-shelf finish at the 4:15 mark of the third quarter.
"There were some lulls for sure (but) that's three games this season where we scored exactly 18 goals, so offensively, we're definitely happy with the production," McQuillan said. "We were really patient tonight and realized pretty early that we had a handle on things."
|Freshman attack Mark Rolewicz gave the Flames a 13-1 advantage with his sharp-angled shot.|
Freshman attack Mark Rolewicz padded Liberty's lead to 13-1 by firing a turnaround shot from the left side with 2:59 left before Pinel added a punctuation mark to the third-quarter scoring after penetrating deep into the right crease for a 14-1 advantage.
Rude capitalized on a man-up opportunity to extend the edge to 15-1 at the 10:05 mark of the fourth quarter by unleashing a missile from the top of the box into the top-right corner of the cage. The Flames scored again with a two-man advantage at the 9:24 mark when freshman attack Nathaniel Spears ripped a shot from the left side off an assist from senior attack Eli Britton.
"It was nice to be able to get to our second- and third-line middies and just get everybody some good minutes tonight," McQuillan said. "It's always nice to reward those guys, not only with minutes, but when they are able to come out and have some success and get some goals, it's a good confidence-booster."
Rude became the Flames' third player to net a hat trick by rifling another shot from the top of the box into the upper netting, lifting Liberty to a 17-1 lead. After O'Connor intercepted a GW pass, Eli Britton cashed in from point-blank range with an easy finish for an 18-1 advantage with 5:14 to go.
GW added another goal late against senior goalie Cole Anstadt after Reynolds recorded three saves in the first three quarters.
The Flames return to action against another SELC Northwest Region rival, West Virginia, on Sunday at 2 p.m. back at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields. The Mountaineers were leading Virginia Tech in the last two minutes of their game last weekend before falling 13-10."
"We're expecting some good competition from West Virginia," McQuillan said. "They're a team that has progressively been getting better every year, so we're going to be prepared for Sunday."