No. 12 Cavaliers top Liberty Flames in season opener with 14-6 performance

East Campus was roaring with anticipation as Liberty University’s women’s lacrosse team hosted its first game of the season against the No. 16 University of Virginia Feb. 9. The high-scoring battle was anything but dull, but the Cavaliers managed to fend off Liberty in the season opener, defeating the Lady Flames 14-6.

Fans filled the seats at the Liberty Lacrosse Field, thrilled to see their team back in action after a heartbreaking conclusion to the 2023 season where the Lady Flames finished as ASUN Conference runners-up in an overtime loss to Jacksonville.

Eager to start the season right, the Flames came out firing against the Cavaliers. However, their aggressive spirit would cost them as Flames sophomore midfielder Katie Colavito received a yellow card and two minutes in the penalty box. Her penalty resulted in a first-quarter power play goal for the Cavaliers scored by Katia Carnevale.

Down early in the game, the Flames fed off the infectious energy of the full stadium. Senior midfielder Mackenzie Lehman tied the game at one apiece on a power play opportunity with four minutes remaining in the first quarter. 

Virginia, however, responded with two quick goals of its own to conclude the first quarter. The Cavaliers were now ahead 3-1 after the first. 

The game opened up in the second quarter for the Cavs as the Flames struggled to respond to an offensive outburst. UVA upperclassmen Morgan Schwab and Maureen Duffy both found the back of the net less than three minutes into the second quarter, and with the score at 5-1 in favor of Virginia, a cloud of defeat began to drift over the crowd. 

However, as the sun went down, the Flames began to rise at home. The referees caught a cheap shot by Virginia’s Olivia Bruno that gave the Flames an opportunity. The Flames then scored two goals off the sticks of Colavito and senior attacker Kelly Scott, cutting the deficit to 5-3. 

Photo by Anna Wheat

Virginia would start off the third strong with a quick goal. The second half truly began to slip away from the Flames when Virginia defenseman Devon Whitaker sent her first goal of the season into an empty Liberty net. 

The Flames couldn’t seem to generate any rhythm in the second half, resulting in a goalie change. With freshman Rachel Hines now in the net, the Cavaliers were still able to find success. Three additional Virginia goals would carry into the fourth quarter, making the score 10-3. 

Though the game seemed to be getting out of hand for the home team, the final quarter was still competitive and high-scoring. The Cavaliers would fight for four more goals.
Liberty, never giving up, netted three consolation goals at the end of the game, making the final score 14-6. 

“The game plan was well-executed,” Nangle said following the loss. The only critique she had was that the Flames “need to clean up their shooting.” 

In fact, the Flames seemed to have outplayed the Cavaliers on the stat sheet. Liberty finished the game with 18 shots on goal, besting Virginia’s 17. Liberty also had a better stat line in turnovers, draw controls and ground balls. 

Unfortunately for the Flames, Virginia goalie Mel Josephson was the star of the game, having saved 12 on-target shots. 

The Flames have no easy task ahead of them as they look to their next game. Tuesday, Feb. 13, Liberty will be traveling to Chapel Hill to face off against No. 3 North Carolina. The Flames have the tools to shock the world and upset a top five opponent in the Tarheels if they can figure out a way to get their offense rolling.   

Hendricks is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *