Liberty won its 2017 Big South opener, 18-8, at Presbyterian on Saturday afternoon.
Nine different players scored for Liberty, leading the Lady Flames lacrosse team to an 18-8 victory at Presbyterian in its 2017 Big South opener, Saturday afternoon at Edens Field at Martin Stadium.
Liberty (2-9, 1-0 Big South) received a four-goal effort from sophomore Brianna McCaffrey, while Abby Britton added three markers. Paige Britton (2), Kayla Foster (2), Hannah Quast (2), Carly White (2), Kaitlyn Cassidy Fischetti (1), Grace Fletcher (1) and Nikki Stumpf (1) all entered the scoring column for the Lady Flames.
The Blue Hose (1-8, 0-1 Big South) were paced by two-goal games from Alexandra Cole and Ellie Stader.
Liberty goalkeeper Katherine Widrick (1-4) earned her first victory of the year with an 11-save performance, while Kayla Koch (1-8) made 14 saves in a losing effort for Presbyterian.
"It feels good to get back into the win column. Presbyterian gets better every year, and I thought they played a great game," said Liberty head coach Kelly Nangle. "Every conference win is a big one, so we are excited to go into this huge week with some momentum."
After trailing in the early stages of the game, Liberty took its first lead with 18:09 left in the opening frame and never trailed again. Eighteen goals was a season-high for the Lady Flames.
Claire Frase put the home side ahead 1:47 into the contest with an unassisted goal. With 27:26 to play in the opening stanza, Paige Britton found Abby Britton in front of the goal for her first goal of the day. Following Abby Britton's goal, PC and Liberty traded goals, with Kathleen Gerrits (PC) and White (Liberty) registering their first tallies of the afternoon. White's fifth goal of the season tied the game at 2-2 with 21:45 to play.
The Lady Flames went down 3-2 after a goal from PC's Natalie Barnett but responded with a 5-0 run to surge ahead for good. The run was triggered following Liberty's Courtney Brown's yellow card at 19:02. Following the card, the Lady Flames recorded three shorthanded goals.
Abby Britton tallied her second marker of the afternoon, a shorthanded free-position goal, to tie the game at 3-3 with 18:23 left in the half.
Just 14 seconds later, Grace Fletcher put Liberty ahead, 4-3. Hannah Quast won a draw control and fed a pass to a streaking Fletcher, who beat Blue Hose goalkeeper Koch for her eighth goal of the year. Abby Britton completed the three-goal burst in 51 seconds for the Lady Flames with her third tally of the day, giving Liberty a 5-3 lead with 17:32 on the clock.
Following a Katherine Widrick save, the Lady Flames quickly advanced the ball out their own zone. Kayla Foster found Hannah Quast, who put a shot in the back of the net for her 10th goal of the season, extending the lead to 6-3 with 14:12 left in the half.
Only 22 seconds after Quast's goal, McCaffrey scored her first of the day. With a defender draped on her, McCaffrey fired a low shot past Koch, making the score 7-3 in favor of Liberty at the 13:50 mark.
Following a free-position goal from PC's Alexandra Cole at the 11:09 mark to cut the deficit to 7-4, the Lady Flames finished the first half with two goals in the final 5:54 of play. Paige Britton got into the scoring column, as Fletcher found Britton in front of the frame. Britton buried her first of the day, providing Liberty an 8-4 advantage.
With 19 ticks left in the first half, Nikki Stumpf drew a foul and converted on a free-position shot to send the Lady Flames into halftime with a 9-4 cushion.
The second half was also won by Liberty, with an identical 9-4 score.
The Blue Hose's Stader scored on a free-position attempt with 27:35 remaining to bring PC to within four goals (9-5) of Liberty, but they would get no closer.
Foster scored her first of the day with 24:33 left, followed by Cassidy-Fischetti's second goal in as many games on a pass from Stumpf, staking Liberty to an 11-5 lead. PC's Lauren Schaff tallied her first goal of the day with 18:57 left, but the Lady Flames with back-to-back goals again, this time from White and Foster.
White entered the eight-meter arc and sliced through the defense, opening up space to get a shot off on net. White's (2 g, 2 a, 4 pts) goal made it 12-6 in favor of the Lady Flames and gave the freshman nine points in her last two contests. Foster's goal was the highlight of the afternoon, as the sophomore received a pass from Jenna Joyal and deposited a behind-the-back shot into the left side of the goal.
Stadler's second goal of the afternoon brought PC to within six (13-7) with 11:50 remaining. Liberty closed out the game by scoring five of the final six goals. McCaffrey added to her goal total with her 18th, 19th, and 20th markers of the year, while Paige Britton and Hannah Quast each scored for the second time in the game. Quast's goal with 21 seconds remaining put the Lady Flames on top of the Blue Hose, 18-8.
Liberty held significant advantages over Presbyterian in draw controls (19-9, game-high 6 by McCaffrey) and shots (40-27). The Lady Flames' 40 shots on Saturday ties for the fourth-most in a game in program history. Liberty also won the ground ball battle (30-25), spurred by a game-high nine from Widrick.
"I'm really proud of how the girls battled and stayed composed. We're growing from each game and getting better in the process," Nangle stated. "It was a great team win getting goals from nine different players. We're excited to get home and get back to work to prepare for Longwood."
Liberty will play its next game at Big South opponent Longwood (5-6, 1-0 Big South), Wednesday at 4 p.m.