McCaffrey had a big night, posting three goals, six caused turnovers, six draw controls and five ground balls versus SDSU.
Liberty nearly erased a four-goal deficit with less than five minutes left at San Diego State on Friday evening before falling, 11-10, to the Aztecs at the Aztec Lacrosse Field.
Liberty trailed, 11-7, with 4:40 remaining in the game following an SDSU goal before rallying to get within one with three unanswered goals. During that spurt, reigning Big South Freshman of the Week Mia Toscano scored two free-position goals, and midfielder Brianna McCaffrey scored an eight-meter marker as well. Toscano's goal with 1:30 left cut the deficit to 11-10.
In the final 1:30, Liberty only managed to possess the ball for a very short time and could not get the equalizer, as San Diego State held on for the one-goal victory.
The Aztecs are now 8-3 and have won six of their last seven contests. The Lady Flames fall to 6-3 with the setback, snapping a two-game winning streak.
The Lady Flames' McCaffrey and sophomore Carly White each scored three times, while SDSU's Harlowe Steele paced the home attack with a hat trick of her own. McCaffrey also filled up the stat sheet with a career-high and game-high six caused turnovers, a game-high six draw controls and five ground balls (also a game high).
Liberty held advantages in shots (35-23) and ground balls (26-17) in the contest.. The Lady Flames, who are No. 1 in the country in caused turnovers per game, generated 14 more on Friday evening, compared to 10 for the Aztecs. Despite the edges in these statistical categories, Liberty never led in the match.
SDSU goalkeeper Katy Sharretts (8-3) made 14 saves in a winning effort for the hosts. Liberty netminder Katherine Widrick (2-1) yielded seven goals against one save in the second half in being credited with her first loss of the season. The Lady Flames' Aubrie Tarris made five saves against four goals in the first 30:00 of action.
The Aztecs' Harlowe struck for her first goal at the 27:23 mark of the first half, giving SDSU the 1-0 edge. Liberty's Michaela Rich scored just over two minutes later, her 13th of the year, evening the game at 1-apiece.
The two teams traded goals again, as Grace McGinty scored for SDSU and White notched her first of the evening with 19:45 remaining in the half. White's 14th of the year made it 2-2.
Over the next 5:35, the Aztecs scored twice (Kirstie Greenlaw and Jill Haight) to build their lead to two (4-2). The final 14:09 of the opening stanza featured only one goal, a tally from Lady Flames junior attacker Kayla Foster with 2:19 on the clock. SDSU narrowly led, 4-3, at intermission.
After only seven goals in the first half, the two teams combined for double the output (14) in the final 30 minutes (seven apiece). The Lady Flames McCaffrey, who scored all three of her goals after halftime, put in her first of the evening 64 seconds into the second half. The goal made it 4-4.
Taylor Sullivan and Morgan Taylor countered for the Aztecs with two goals in a 36-second span, with Morgan Taylor's bringing the score to 6-4 (Aztecs) with 24:23 to go.
Following White's goal with 21:17 on the clock, making it 6-5, SDSU responded with back-to-back goals from Taylor and Steele. Steele's second of the day, an eight-meter shot, made it 8-5 Aztecs with 11:40 left.
Liberty scored two of the next three goals (White and McCaffrey) to get within two again (9-7), but goals from Steele and Bailey Brown provided a four-goal cushion, 11-7, for the home side with 4:40 remaining.
The aforementioned goals from Toscano (2) and McCaffrey (1) set the stage for an intense final 90 seconds of play. The Aztecs thwarted off the Liberty pressure in holding on for the victory. San Diego State is now 2-0 in the all-time series, with wins in 2015 and 2018, both in San Diego.
SDSU won the battle in the draw circle, 13-10, and committed less fouls (27) than the Lady Flames (33). Liberty was also carded six times in the contest (five yellow cards), compared to zero infractions for San Diego State.
Next up for Liberty is a home matchup against William & Mary on Wednesday evening in what will be the Lady Flames' last non-conference game of 2018. The contest between the Lady Flames and the Tribe (4-4) is pegged for a 6 p.m. start at the Liberty Lacrosse Field.