Men’s lacrosse defeats Davenport in midnight game
The Liberty Flames lacrosse team ended its regular season home schedule with a rollercoaster of a game, beating out the Davenport Panthers in the annual midnight lacrosse game Saturday April 8, 16-14.
The game marks the fifth straight midnight-game win for the lacrosse team and started a new home-game win streak after the Flames had their 26-home-game win streak broken by UConn, April 2.
The Flames had an explosive start to the game, bringing the score to 6-1 within the first 12 minutes.
“I feel like Davenport was just a little bit shell shocked at the beginning, and it took them a little bit of time to get their bearings, and we got a couple of quick goals on them early,” Flames Head Coach Kyle McQuillan said.
“I tack that up to home-field advantage.”
But Davenport did not give up at that point and they began making a small comeback with three unanswered goals, putting the score at 6-4 by the end of the first quarter.
“Once they got settled they were definitely able to start finding success — and pretty consistently — and they didn’t give us much room to breathe all game,” McQuillan said.
Once the Panthers had gotten their bearings, they were able to make up ground they had lost in the first quarter, tailing Liberty closely.
“As the night went on, things started to slow down,” freshman attack Caleb Britton said.
“Both sides were making mistakes. It’s a midnight game. Nobody’s used to playing lacrosse at midnight.”
The Flames stayed ahead of the Panthers, but lost ground during a 12-minute scoring drought during which the Panthers scored three goals.
Davenport managed to close the gap on Liberty in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 14-14 with two minutes left in the game.
The Flames pushed a little harder when senior attack Nick Lombardozzi, with an assist from sophomore attack Sam Gregory, scored to put the Flames ahead.
Forty-five seconds later, Gregory recovered the ball, passed to freshman midfielder Carter Elliot who got it to Britton who got it to freshman midfielder Erik Arvesen to score the final point of the match.
“The offense was really clicking,” Britton said.
“We weren’t making too many mistakes on defense and the transition game was really good, and we were just capitalizing on all of our opportunities.”
As the night went on, McQuillan said the game got more frantic.
“It came down to a few key ground balls where it was just scrappy,” McQuillan said.
“Especially those last few minutes it didn’t look like much of a lacrosse game, it looked more like a rugby game or a football game.”
The evening was also senior night where three members were recognized: Lombardozzi, face-off specialist Jacob Campbell and midfielder Brett Wood.
The sidelines were loud the entire game, and McQullan said it was very encouraging for the team.
“I gave the game ball to the sidelines tonight, which I’ve never done before,” McQuillan said.
“Through it all, they were the most upbeat. They were the most positive, and they were fantastic for the guys today and really did a much better job than the coaching staff of staying positive and upbeat.”
The crowd was also an encouraging factor to help the Flames press ahead during the tense game.
“The crowd’s always the best,” Lombardozzi said.
“Just to hear it roar when there’s a goal or a big hit — nothing gets you going quite like that.”
The Flames will play their regular season-finale game at 7 p.m. in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech April 15.
The game will be the first matchup for the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) Northwest Region regular-season title.
“This is a big win for us going into Virginia Tech,” Lombardozzi said.
“Going down there and playing a big team that’s ranked on the road is always a big deal for us and also for the division. We’re hoping that we can keep this momentum going and get another win on the road.”
Panyard is a copy editor.