Liberty Men’s lacrosse battles for a win against the Arizona State Sun Devils

No. 20 Liberty University’s men’s lacrosse team beat No. 10 Arizona State University12-11 in the Flames second game of their double-header Saturday, March 10. After a loss against No. 5 University of Colorado the night before, the win against the Sun Devils puts Liberty over the .500 mark.

The entire game was fast-paced. ASU’s Jake Marthens scored the first goal of the night 50 seconds into the game. Liberty responded with its own goal from sophomore attacker Mateo Zumpano. Zumpano’s goal was dazzling, getting the shot off while being knocked over from behind. The tie was short-lived, however, as ASU’s Marthens scored his second goal only a minute later.

After a failed man advantage opportunity by Liberty, the Flames took advantage of an ASU turnover, allowing Liberty junior attacker Sam Gregory to get in the Sun Devils crease for a goal. Gregory had not had enough, though, and he scored again a couple minutes later to take the lead. Goals three and four were the result of defenseman Ean White, who forced the turnovers and passed the ball upfield.

Ryan Reynolds, Liberty’s goalie, had many fantastic saves on the night, but ASU’s grinders found the goal again to bring the lead down to one. With two minutes left in the first quarter, sophomore attacker Elijah Britton fought through three defenders for another Liberty goal to push the lead to two ending the half.

The start of the second quarter was a little slower, but Reynold’s saves brought the crowd to its feet. It was not until halfway through the second quarter that a goal was scored. Liberty midfielder Derrick Esh put the ball in the net with an almost no-look shot. ASU answered back with a long attack and a goal to finish it. By the end of the half, Liberty scored one more goal of its own but was combated by ASU’s two goals, making the score a one-goal lead at 7-6 favoring Liberty.

Liberty head coach Kyle McQuillan said the downfall to the previous game was the team’s third quarter.

“We are just not a good third quarter team,” McQuillan told his team at halftime. “I told them we need to change that.”

The Flames made an effort to be more physical, constantly laying hits to whoever was near them.

ASU started the second half the same way they started the first: a goal 45 seconds in. Liberty’s Caleb Britton, Elijah Britton’s cousin, knew the team needed to keep a lead, so he took matters into his own hands, scoring on a breakaway for a short-handed goal. The Sun Devils came back with two quick goals to take the lead for the second time of the night.

Things looked bleak for Liberty, but an ASU penalty gave the Flames the boost they needed, with Carter Elliot tying the game at 9-9. The Flames rode the momentum, giving them another goal from Elijah Britton to take the lead. Gregory had five points on the night. He said he feels that the main difference between Friday’s game against Colorado and the game against ASU was the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was just as closely fought as the previous three. Liberty took a two-goal lead six minutes into the fourth quarter, but ASU was going to stay in the game, scoring three minutes later. Derick Esh scored his second with three minutes left, giving Liberty a 12-10 lead. Following Esh’s goal, the Flames almost committed a detrimental penalty, but with the efforts of Reynolds, the Sun Devils attack was thwarted.

At the one-minute mark, Liberty went from feeling confident to feeling nervous, with an ASU goal making it a one-goal game. ASU took control after the last faceoff and readied an attack. The fans gasped as the Sun Devils pushed with an intimidating final push to tie the game, but White, the defense hero of the game, intercepted a pass and secured the win for the Flames.

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