The High Point Panthers upended the Liberty Lady Flames, 25-7, on Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.
High Point (11-3) improves to 5-0 in Big South competition and set a school record with its 11th straight win, while Liberty (4-11) falls to 3-2 in conference and into a tie for third in the Big South with Winthrop (6-9, 3-2).
The Panthers received a nine-point (5 g, 4 a) effort from Samantha Brown and six goals from Darla Poulin in the victory. Erica Perrotta added and Emory Gaeng each tallied three-goals, and three-assists efforts. For Liberty, Carly White and Kayla Foster paced the Lady Flames with two goals apiece, while Paige Britton had a one-goal, two-assist performance.
High Point goalkeeper Jill Rall improved to 10-0 in 2017 with a five-save effort, while Liberty netminder fell to 3-6, as she surrendered 14 goals against seven saves in the 30 minutes of action.
The Panthers, who came in leading the Big South in goals per game, wasted no time on the attack, scoring three times (Gaeng, Poulin and Perrotta) in the game's first 3:54 to take a 3-0 lead and cause Liberty to take a timeout to regroup.
High Point's Ashley Britton extended the visitors' advantage to 4-0 before the Lady Flames' White scored on a free-position attempt, her 14th goal of the year, trimming the deficit to 4-1 with 23:08 on the clock.
Just 46 seconds later, Erin Ilchuk scored to provide the Panthers a 5-1 edge. But Liberty responded, as Paige Britton hounded Casey Kotchenreuter in the High Point zone, forcing a turnover. The Liberty redshirt sophomore scooped up the ground ball and fed an open Brianna McCaffrey, who ripped a shot past Rall for her 27th goal of the season. McCaffrey's marker brought the home side within three (5-2) with 19:59 remaining in the opening stanza but they would get no closer the remainder of the way.
A trio of tallies by Perrotta, Williams and Brown in a stretch of 3:23 pushed the Panthers' lead up to six (8-2) with 16:22 left in the first period.
On the Lady Flames' next possession, the home side found itself with a transition opportunity. Freshman Jenna Joyal sped up the left side of the field and found Paige Britton. As that was happening, Rall exited the visitors' net to make a play on Britton. But Britton made a terrific backhanded snag and put a shot into an open net. Her 19th goal of the season and 15th in the last five games narrowed the deficit to 8-3 with 15:32 left.
The Panthers closed the half on a 7-2 run, including two goals in the final 19 seconds, to go into intermission up, 14-5. During that stretch, Poulin scored her 34th, 35th and 36th goals of the season. Liberty received a pair of markers from Foster and White (free-position) in the second part of the opening frame.
High Point broke the match open with a 6-0 run out of the gates in the second half. Brown scored three times in the stretch, while Poulin put two balls in the back of the net and Allie Little scored as well. Poulin's sixth goal of the day staked the Panthers to a 20-5 advantage over the Lady Flames with 19:04 remaining.
In the closing minutes, Liberty received goals from Grace Fletcher, the 15th of her freshman campaign and 13th in her last six games, and Foster, her 22nd. Fletcher's goal was set up on a free-position attempt from Paige Britton. Britton sent a ball across the eight-meter arc to Fletcher and the freshman beat Rall for the goal.
High Point scored five times over the final 19:04 to settle the final score at 25-7. The Panthers' defense forced the Lady Flames into a season-high 38 turnovers. Christina Del Sesto and Olivia Nostrant shared top honors with four caused turnovers, while Liberty senior Melanie Via notched three caused turnovers in the match.
High Point held a slight edge over Liberty in draw controls (18-16) but dominated in shots (38-15). The Lady Flames' McCaffrey posted a game-high seven draws won and has 17 over her last two contests.
The Lady Flames will be back in action on Wednesday at home against Radford (6-8, 2-3 Big South). Wednesday evening is Senior Night for the Liberty lacrosse program, where the team will honor its seniors prior to the 6 p.m. contest against the Highlanders at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.