The offense seems to be coming around at the right time for Liberty’s boys lacrosse team.
A five-goal second quarter helped propel the Lions past visiting Francis Scott Key 9-4 in a Class 1A North Region 1 semifinal Wednesday night.
The Lions nearly scored in double figures for the second straight game after topping Manchester Valley 10-5 on June 2 in the regular-season finale.
Junior attack Jackson Wright netted a game-high seven goals, while fellow junior Jesse Jason had a pair of goals while assisting on two of Wright’s scores.
“My teammates, they are all my success,” Wright said. “Jesse Jason, he might’ve had like five assists to me. I didn’t even move much. My seven goals aren’t from me, it’s from our team.”
Wright got the scoring started midway through the first period. The junior dived to the front of the crease and received a feed from Jason behind the net. Wright put the ball past goalie Keith LaPierre on a hop for a 1-0 lead.
Eagles junior midfielder Bryce Zepp knotted the score late in the period by bullying his way to the front of the net and beating the keeper to his left.
“Bryce is just a really hardworking lacrosse player. He’s a great athlete and we rely on him a lot,” Key coach Butch Fitzgerald said. “He carries a lot on his shoulders and we ask a lot of him and he always rises to the occasion and does the best he can.”
Liberty (4-6) responded with a 3-0 run by Wright and Jason to create some distance. Eagles freshman Gary Bavetta briefly stopped the run with a goal, but the Lions finished off the first half with another goal from Wright.
The Lions continued to attack after the half, pushing out to a seven goal lead at the end of the third period. The Eagles made the game closer with a pair of fourth-quarter goals from Zepp and sophomore midfielder Gabe Dell.
Prior to those two FSK goals, Liberty’s defense was staying stingy in the second half despite starting a lineup filled with underclassmen.
“I think we have a great youth movement that happened because of the situation of graduation,” Liberty coach Josh Burchett said. “Those guys were hungry, they played great at [junior varsity] and they stepped up for us. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
For FSK (2-5), the advanced play of its young lineup gave Fitzgerald a lot of hope for next season.
“A lot of new kids out here the last week,” he said. “We brought a lot of kids up that are just hitting a varsity field for the first time. Over the last 10 days, they put in a lot of hard work. Tried to improve their skills. I am proud of them. I made sure it was very clear, they should be proud of themselves when they walk out of here.”
The Lions narrowly missed the 10-goal mark with several shot in the fourth that found the post. They settled for nine goals and getting to play another day as they move on to the regional final against Pikesville.
“It’s exciting, it’s been a weird season. A lot of our seniors [missed this game] but we got a lot of guys,” Wright said. “We’re like a little family. Looking forward to next game.”
Goals: L-Jackson Wright 7, Jesse Jason 2; FSK-Bryce Zepp 2, Gary Bavetta, Gabe Dell
Assists: L-Jason 2, Aiden Ventura, Jack DeMola, Jake Lucas, Jordan Ambrose, Brendan Hillis
Saves: L-9 (Justin Long); FSK-9 (Keith LaPierre)
Halftime: Liberty, 6-2