Trailing by eight goals at the half, the Lady Flames lacrosse team staged an incredible comeback to draw within one of Jacksonville with 5:36 left. However, the No. 1 seed Dolphins held off No. 2 seed Liberty for a 20-18 victory and their sixth ASUN title, Saturday afternoon at Brooks Stadium.
Liberty (14-5) wraps up its season with a program-record 14 victories after being edged in its second title game in school history (also in the Big South title game in 2015).
Jacksonville (16-3) has won six straight games, as well as, ASUN titles in each of the last three years. The Dolphins earn the ASUN Conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship.
The Lady Flames' Brianna McCaffrey, a senior captain, and Jenna Joyal each had five goals in the game. McCaffrey, an ASUN All-Conference first team honoree, matched a career high with the five markers, while Joyal established a new career best by scoring five times. Senior captain Kayla Foster had two goals and a game-high three assists in her final game, and Hannah Quast and Grace Fletcher each scored twice.
McCaffrey, Foster and Joyal were each named to the ASUN Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament team for their efforts.
JU's Hayley Ciklin (five goals) and Molly Brock (four goals and game-high 11 draw controls) combined for nine goals in the game.
Scoring Summary Liberty Goals: Jenna Joyal 5, Brianna McCaffrey 5, Kayla Foster 2, Hannah Quast 2, Grace Fletcher 2, Anna Keebler 1, Carly White 1 Liberty Assists: Kayla Foster 3, Jenna Joyal 1, Hannah Quast 1 Jacksonville Goals: Hayley Ciklin 5, Molly Brock 4, Jenny Kinsey 3, Alyssa Arnold 3, Lillie Miller 3, Lauren Phillips 1 , Alexis Deaken 1 Jacksonville Assists: Molly Brock 2, Hayley Ciklin 2, Alyssa 1, Jenny Kinsey 1, Lauren Phillips 1, McKenna Rushford 1, Eileen Torroella 1
Goalkeepers W: Dayna Martinetto 16-3, 5 saves L: Katherine Widrick 14-5, 10 saves
Thoughts From Head Coach Kelly Nangle "What a game. It's never easy finishing a season no matter how it ends. Seeing these seniors go out without a championship breaks my heart, but they left their jerseys in a better place and have turned this program around completely. Every day, I am proud to coach these young women, but today was beyond special. They never gave up, played their hearts out and left it all on the field. You can't ask for anything more from a group of competitors. This season was special, and we have the seniors to thank for that. I am proud of how we represented our program and our university. We will be back next year."
Turning Point Jacksonville still held a 17-10 lead over Liberty with 19:52 remaining. However, The Lady Flames staged a major rally over the next 14-plus minutes to draw within a goal (18-17) with just over six minutes to play. During the 7-1 run, Joyal scored three times, Foster recorded two goals and McCaffrey and Keebler scored, as well.
Joyal's goal made it 18-16 with 6:53 left, followed by a strike from Foster to bring the Lady Flames within one at 18-17 with 5:36 on the clock.
The Dolphins won the next two draw controls and capitalized on both opportunities. JU's Molly Brock (free-position shot) and Jenny Kinsey scored back-to-back goals, with Kinsey's marker making it 20-17 with 2:12 remaining in the contest. Liberty's Joyal scored her fifth goal of the day with 1:28 left, but Jacksonville won the ensuing draw and was able to kill most of the remaining clock on the way to victory.
First Half Summary • Jacksonville's high-powered attack, which entered the day averaging 18.17 goals per game, struck for eight goals in the game's first 16:14 to build an 8-3 advantage. The Dolphins' Lillie Miller scored three times in that stretch, with her unassisted tally staking top-seeded JU to a five-goal edge (8-3) with 13:46 to play in the opening half. • Liberty scored three of the next five goals to trim the JU lead to 10-6. McCaffrey scored two of those goals, one on a free-position shot and the second one coming in a man-down situation which sliced the Dolphins' advantage to 10-6 with 3:20 to go. • Jacksonville closed the half on a 4-0 run, with a pair of goals coming from Brock. The Dolphins took a 14-6 lead into the break, which was aided by their ability to win draws (16-5) and possess the ball. • JU outshot Liberty 25-14 in the first 30 minutes and held advantages in shots (25-14), caused turnovers (9-8), clear percentage (100 percent for JU to 66.7 percent for Liberty) and free-position goals (2-1). The Lady Flames scooped up 11 ground balls in the opening stanza, compared to 10 for the Dolphins. Liberty's Katherine Widrick, Sarah Steenson and Quast collected two ground balls apiece for Liberty.
Second Half Summary • The Lady Flames came out firing in the second stanza, scoring four of the first five goals in the first 6:31 of the half. Joyal scored 61 seconds into the half, while junior captain Carly White (team-high seven draw controls), an ASUN All-Conference first team performer, capped off the 4-1 run with a goal at the 23:29 mark. White's 37th goal of the year brought the Lady Flames within five at 15-10. • Hayley Ciklin and Brock, the ASUN Lacrosse Championship MVP, answered with consecutive goals for JU to bump the lead up to 17-10 with 19:52 left. • Liberty made life difficult for the Dolphins in the second half. JU was just 3-of-7 on clearing attempts and turned the ball over 10 times. The Lady Flames outshot the Dolphins 26-14 over the final 30 minutes and held edges in caused turnovers (5-4) and saves (6-2).
Key Stats & Notes • Liberty is 27-10 over the past two seasons following back-to-back record-breaking seasons. The Lady Flames were 14-5 this season and 13-5 a year ago. • Liberty outshot Jacksonville 40-39 and had an advantage in clear percentage (.738-.714). JU won the battle for draw controls (25-15), ground balls (19-16) and free-position goals (4-2). Both teams notched 13 caused turnovers. • Liberty's senior class is the winningest in program history with 38 victories over the last four years. • Senior captain and attacker Kayla Foster, a four-time all-conference player wraps up her career as Liberty's all-time leader in career points (240), assists (129), assists per game (1.74), points per game (3.24). The Sewickley, Pa., native is fourth in program history with 111 goals. • Senior captain and midfielder Brianna McCaffrey, also a four-time all-conference performer, finishes up her time at Liberty tied for first in school history with 128 career goals, sharing top honors with former player and current Lady Flames assistant coach Nina Dunay (128 goals, 2011-15). The Boca Raton, Fla., native is also Liberty's all-time leader in caused turnovers (146), ground balls (163) and draw controls (233). She stands at sixth in program history in career points with 151. • Senior goalkeeper Katherine Widrick, an ASUN All-Conference player this season, finishes her career as the winningest netminder (27 victories) in school history. The Camillus, N.Y., native also ranks first in program history in goals-against-average (10.99), second in save percentage (.441) and second in total saves (437) and third in ground balls (152). • Widrick's 10-save effort was her eight game of 10 or more saves, this season. • Joyal finishes the season as Liberty's leading goal scorer with 39 points, followed by White (37 goals) and Keebler (37 points). As a team, the Lady Flames had their most goals in a season (268) in program history. White paced all Liberty players with 61 points on the year, followed by Foster (59) and Joyal (50). • Liberty is leading all NCAA DI teams with 15.79 caused turnovers per game. The Lady Flames had exactly 300 caused turnovers in 2019, a new program record. • Liberty set new program single-season records for both man-up goals (24) and man-down goals (12). • The Dolphins are now 6-0 all-time against the Lady Flames, including 2-0 this season. The Lady Flames' 18-goal effort was the most they have ever scored against Jacksonville. The 20 goals allowed were the most Liberty surrendered in a game in 2019.
What an incredible championship game & season. Thank you seniors for your countless contributions to the program over these last 4 years. We love you & are grateful to you for changing this program forever. #Team10 #LibertyLacrosse #lacrosse #ASUNWLAX #ASUNBuilt #ThankYouSeniors pic.twitter.com/bGPqssorBI — Liberty Lacrosse (@libertywlax) May 4, 2019
What an incredible championship game & season. Thank you seniors for your countless contributions to the program over these last 4 years. We love you & are grateful to you for changing this program forever. #Team10 #LibertyLacrosse #lacrosse #ASUNWLAX #ASUNBuilt #ThankYouSeniors pic.twitter.com/bGPqssorBI