Liberty lacrosse engages in rainy battle with Notre Dame, falling 12-5

The Liberty University women’s lacrosse team fought in its annual rivalry match against Notre Dame April 11 on the Mountain. The Flames battled for a full 60 minutes through rain, losing 12-5 to the Fighting Irish. But despite the loss, it was the kind of game the Flames needed to turn their season around and encourage them in the weeks to come.

Coming off a tough week with two discouraging losses, Liberty hoped to use this game to boost its confidence across the entire team.

“I came into the game and told the team, ‘We just want to give them a hard game,’” senior attacker Jordan Sheive said. 

The Flames started the second quarter trailing 6-0 but quickly turned the game around when senior defender Katelyn Weissend dished a first-career assist to roommate Sheive to score the first goal for the Flames. The shot erupted the entire crowd, bench and players on the field. 

“It felt great,” Weissend said. “Coming from a low defender, I needed that full-of-energy (shot).” 

Photo by Anna Wheat

From then on, it was a domino effect across the field. Junior goalkeeper Mara Tellers made a career-high 16 saves against some of the best offensive scorers in the country. 

“It builds the confidence in our defenders,” Flames Head Coach Kelly Nangle said. “They (all) got that real and external confidence today.” 

Junior attacker Cami Merkel and senior attacker Kelly Scott used their speed and strength to rattle the Irish in the last three quarters of the game. Double-team pressing the defenders gave the Flames more energy and fight, and each player became more aggressive by the minute, pushing the Irish out of the box and making it harder for them to get a goal. 

The Flames held the Irish to two goals after the third quarter, figuring out the best way to execute as the game went on. The mindset to keep the Irish to as few shots and goals as possible helped the Flames block shots, using their sticks to make it nearly impossible for the Irish to get more than 10 shots on goal each period. 

“This is the best Notre Dame team we have played,” Nangle said. “They could be the No. 1 team easily.” 

Photo by Anna Wheat

The Flames held Notre Dame to 40 total shots with 12 goals, giving them tremendous encouragement in the final stretch of the season. Graduate midfielder Kasey Choma led the Irish with three goals during the match. The Flames adjusted to Choma’s early dominance by going back to basics and figuring out the best ways to close her off from scoring. 

A rainy and windy match did not stop the fans and benches from staying locked in during the game. The Liberty and Notre Dame benches were having a game of their own, battling out for who had the most energy. 

“It helps so much when our bench is fired up,” Sheive said. “It gives us that extra oomph.”

The chemistry of this team shows the grit and perseverance its members show for one another on the field. 

“We built that (chemistry) today,” Sheive said. “We have been struggling with that in these past few games.”

After a strong fight against a tough Irish team, the Flames moved on to face the No. 1 seed in the conference, Kennesaw State, April 13 in Georgia. The team rallied against the Owls, taking the contest 12-5 and adding another conference win to its cap.

The Lady Flames have just two conference games remaining on their schedule before the long-awaited ASUN tournament, set for May 2-4 in Jacksonville, Florida.

“We are exactly where we are supposed to be,” Nangle said. “This is happening at exactly the right time.”   

Young is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

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