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Liberty Tops Kennesaw State 16-12 in Inaugural ASUN Game

March 16, 2019  Kennesaw, Ga.   RSS
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Liberty defeated Kennesaw State in its ASUN opener, Saturday.

Liberty defeated Kennesaw State in its ASUN opener, Saturday.

The Lady Flames lacrosse squad built a six-goal lead at the half on the way to a 16-12 road victory at Kennesaw State in its first-ever ASUN contest, Saturday afternoon at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

Liberty is now 7-2 on the year and 1-0 in the ASUN, its best nine-game start in program history. The Lady Flames, winners of their last three games overall, improve to a perfect 5-0 in road games in 2019. Liberty wraps up its spring break trip with a 2-0 record, with wins over Kennesaw State today and Furman (14-10) last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Kennesaw State Owls fall to 2-5 on the season and 0-1 in conference. The Owls' Siena Gore tallied a game-high five goals.

Three Lady Flames – junior Carly White, sophomore Mia Toscano and senior Brianna McCaffrey – notched three goals apiece in the game. Senior Kayla Foster, junior Jenna Joyal and junior Hannah Quast each had two-goal games as well.

Scoring Summary
Liberty Goals: Carly White 3, Mia Toscano 3, Brianna McCaffrey 3, Kayla Foster 2, Jenna Joyal 2, Hannah Quast 2, Grace Fletcher 1
Liberty Assists: Carly White 4, Kayla Foster 1, Mia Toscano 1
Kennesaw State Goals: Siena Gore 5, Jennifer Buckley 2, Abby Squires 1, Emily Napierala 1, Izzy Palermo 1, Anna Giulitto 1, Haley Swift 1
Kennesaw State Assists: Marissa Gore 2, Emily Napierala 1, Abby Squires

W: Katherine Widrick 7-2, 10 saves
L: Alex Bunn 2-5, 14 saves

Thoughts From Head Coach Kelly Nangle
"Wins on the road are tough to get, and conference wins are even tougher. I'm proud of how our girls played and worked for 60 minutes against a resilient Kennesaw team that never gave up. They gave us a fight, and we dug in and battled until the end. We started a new chapter today playing against a team we've never played before in a new conference with different challenges. Our girls are focused and excited to continue to get better and work through different situations. We are excited to be coming home with two hard-fought road wins."

Turning Point
The Lady Flames scored the first five goals of the game in the first six minutes. During that stretch, Foster scored twice, and Liberty received goals from White, Grace Fletcher and Toscano. Foster's first goal of the day was her 200th career point. Liberty never trailed in the game and led by as many as seven (10-3) in the first half.

Seven different Lady Flames scored in the opening half, as Liberty took a 10-4 lead into intermission.

First Half Summary
• Liberty scored 10 goals in the first half for the second time in its last three games. The Lady Flames scored 13 times against East Carolina at home, March 6.
• White had a trio of assists in the opening 30 minutes to go along with a pair of goals. The Marietta, Ga., native went on to match her career high with seven points.

Second Half Summary
• Kennesaw State drew within three at 12-9 with 17:20 left following an Anna Giulitto free-position tally. However, Liberty extended the lead back to five with goals from Toscano, which completed a hat trick, and McCaffrey. McCaffrey's highlight-reel goal, a low-to-high backhand flip shot just under the top bar, pushed the visitors' edge to 14-9 with 14:28 remaining.
• The Lady Flames had 11 of their 17 caused turnovers after the break and made it difficult for the Owls on clearing attempts. Kennesaw State only converted 5-of-13 clears in the second stanza.
• KSU got within three (15-12) on Siena Gore's fifth marker of the day with 3:06 remaining. However, the Liberty controlled much of the possession in the closing minutes. McCaffrey was fouled with 2.1 seconds remaining, and just before the final horn sounded, she ripped a shot into the cage for the 16th and final goal of the game for the Lady Flames.

Key Stats & Notes
• Liberty has now won three straight conference openers. The Lady Flames defeated Presbyterian in both 2017 and 2018 while in the Big South Conference.
• The Lady Flames are 5-0 on the road for the first time in program history.
• Liberty held a 33-25 edge in shots and 28-24 advantage in ground balls. The Lady Flames, who came into the game second in the nation in caused turnovers per game (16.25), had 17 more on Saturday. McCaffrey, who entered the contest second in the country in caused turnovers per game (3.38), led all players with a game-high five caused turnovers.
• White, the reigning ASUN Player of the Week, paced the Lady Flames with a career-high-tying seven points (3 g, 4 a). The junior leads the Lady Flames with 36 points through nine games. Toscano matched a career high with three goals and also had an assist, three draw controls and a caused turnover.
• Goalkeeper Katherine Widrick notched her fourth game of 10 or more saves this season. She is 7-2 on the year with an 8.39 goals-against-average and 72 saves. Widrick's win on Saturday moves her into first place in program history for career wins with 20.
• Reigning ASUN Defensive Player of the Week Sarah Steenson had four caused turnovers for a third straight contest.
• Kennesaw State won the battle in the draw circle 17-13 and scored five free-position goals, compared to two for Liberty.
• Gore of Kennesaw State paced all players with eight draw controls. Liberty's McCaffrey led all Lady Flames in draw controls (4) and ground balls (6).

Up Next
• Liberty will return home for a non-conference contest against the Old Dominion Monarchs (2-8), Friday at 3 p.m.
• The Lady Flames defeated the Monarchs 14-12 last season (Feb. 28. 2018) in Norfolk, Va. It was Liberty's first-ever win over ODU.