Liberty Earns Spot in ASUN Title Game With 23-11 Semifinal Win Over Kennesaw State
No. 2 seed Liberty used a strong offensive effort to down No. 3 seed Kennesaw State 23-11 in the 2021 ASUN Lacrosse Championship semifinals, Thursday afternoon at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
With the win, the Lady Flames move on to the ASUN Championship title game for a second time in program history and second straight season. Liberty will meet the No. 1 seed, 17th-ranked Jacksonville (10-1), in the championship game on Saturday at 1 p.m. The contest will be carried live on ESPN+, with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the 2021 Division I Women's Lacrosse Championship.
Liberty's 23 goals are tied for the second most goals of any team in ASUN Championship history, and that mark is also tied for the second most goals in a game in program history.
The Lady Flames improve to 10-8 on the year, their third straight double-digit win season (2018, 2019 and 2021 – 2020 excluded due to shortened season). Meanwhile, the Owls' season ends with a 5-10 mark.
Liberty freshman midfielder Mackenzie Lehman had the best game of her career with a career-high five goals as well as six draw controls, three ground balls and one caused turnover. Senior midfielder Carly White tallied a career-high five assists in the contest as well. Midfielder Lizzy Ferguson won a career-best eight draw controls, tied for the ninth most by any player in a single game in school history.
The Lady Flames' Brooke Bryan and Jordan Baerga each scored four times, and 11 different players scored in the victory. Baerga's four goals were a career best as well. Liberty goalkeeper Jennifer Soriero (nine saves) scooped up three ground balls in the game. She has 62 ground balls this season, tied for the most ground balls in a year in program history (Carly White, 62 ground balls, 2019).
Thoughts From Head Coach Kelly Nangle
"What a game! The postseason is special. Getting wins in May is something we have been focused on since our season ended last March. I am really proud of how our girls responded to our last few games of the season. They have been focused and have continued to prepare. We executed our game plan and implemented some adjustments from our last few practices. I'm really proud of how we started this game. That has been a point of emphasis for us and something we will need to carry into Saturday's game. We are excited to continue to prepare and carry this momentum into the championship game. Go Flames!"
Liberty Goals: Mackenzie Lehman 5, Brooke Bryan 4, Jordan Baerga 4, Mia Toscano 2, Olivia Glaze 2, Carly White 1, Leah Ruby 1, Lizzy Ferguson 1, Tori Banks 1, Andrea Colavito 1, Jordan Sheive 1
Liberty Assists: Carly White 5, Leah Ruby 2, Brooke Bryan 1, Lizzy Ferguson 1, Mia Toscano 1
Kennesaw State Goals: Siena Gore 4, Jenna Mish 2, Marissa Gore 1, Natalie Welch 1, Camryn Klaus 1, Mia Mackenzie 1, Jaxsyn Schonewille 1
Kennesaw State Assists: Marissa Gore 2, Natalie Welch 1
W: Jennifer Soriero 10-8, nine saves
L: Julia Weiss 5-10, zero saves
Liberty broke the game open with an 8-1 run midway through the first half. The Lady Flames led 5-3 prior to that run, which started with 22:01 left in the opening frame and culminated in a Brooke Bryan goal, her fourth of the half, at the 11:43 mark. Bryan's marker made it 13-4 Liberty.
The Lady Flames scored three of the final four goals of the opening half as well. All three of those goals came from Mackenzie Lehman, with the final goal at the 4:09 mark providing Liberty a 16-5 advantage.
Key Stats & Notes
• Liberty outshot Kennesaw State 36-24 and held edges in ground balls (16-10), assists (10-3), caused turnovers (6-4) and clear percentage (.938-.833). The Lady Flames' 10 assists matched a season high.
• Kennesaw State had a 19-17 edge in draw controls.
• The Lady Flames and Owls combined for 21 first half goals. In the first meeting between the two teams (April 16), Liberty and Kennesaw State combined for 23 total goals in the game (17-6 Liberty win).
• This is the highest-scoring game (23 goals) for Liberty in a championship setting.
• With her six-point game today, White moves into a tie for second place in school history with 187 career points, joining Morgan Becker (2011-15).
• Lehman is one of only two Liberty players to score five goals in a game this season. Leah Ruby also accomplished the feat on April 23 at Stetson.
• The Lady Flames improve to 3-0 all-time versus the Owls.
• With her 10th win of the season today, Soriero is one of only two goalkeepers in school history with 10 or more wins in a season. Former Liberty goalkeeper Katherine Widrick won 14 games in 2019.
• Liberty and Jacksonville met on April 25, a 22-11 Dolphins victory on their home field. Jacksonville is 7-0 all-time against Liberty and is in search of its fourth consecutive ASUN crown.
• The Lady Flames will be making their third appearance in a conference championship final. They made the Big South Championship final in 2015 and have made the ASUN Championship title game in each of their first two full seasons in the league (2019 and 2021).