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Aggressive approach on offense leads Liberty girls lacrosse past Catoctin, into 1A state quarterfinal

From the outset, Liberty’s offense was on the attack in its Class 1A state quarterfinal girls lacrosse game against Catoctin on Monday.

The Lions poured in seven goals in the first five minutes and rolled to 20-1 victory to clinch a state semifinal berth.

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Liberty won the opening draw and immediately capitalized. After the Lions worked the ball around the perimeter, sophomore midfielder Ally Pond got the ball at the top of the circle. She charged to the front of the net and beat the goaltender to her left to give Liberty a 1-0 lead just 30 seconds into the game.

“They came out really ready to play,” Liberty coach Tom Brandel said of his team. “They were excited to play and we are excited to go to the state semifinals.”

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Moments later, sophomore midfielder Jenna Evans cashed in from the right side of the net for a 2-0 lead. Junior Val Thompson followed with a goal, as did sophomore Riley Matthiesen and freshman Emily Spampinato, to push out to a five-goal advantage.

The Lions didn’t let up. Thompson followed with another three goals in four minutes and junior attack Anna Culver added one of her own as the Lions pushed out to a 12-0 lead before settling into a ball-control approach.

“We didn’t want to underestimate any team, [so] we came out really strong,” Thompson said. “We have our seniors back so that’s been great. I think we work really well together as a team.”

Liberty spread the wealth in the second half as the Lions cleared their bench and got goals from freshman attack Annika Wray and seniors Kayleigh Ward and senior Caitlin O’Dea, among others. The Lions also got a glimpse of their future in net as Halley Feaga turned in a stellar second-half performance in goal with a couple of saves.

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“Any type of playoff experience that you can get younger girls is great,” Brandel said. “We’re actually starting six or seven sophomores, so we are a very young team and we are excited about the future of our program.”

Liberty's Val Thompson gets low as she catches a pass during a 1A state quarterfinal girls lacrosse game against Catoctin at Liberty High School on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Liberty's Val Thompson gets low as she catches a pass during a 1A state quarterfinal girls lacrosse game against Catoctin at Liberty High School on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

Thompson finished with a team-high six points for the Lions with four goals and two assists. Matthiesen, Pond, Evans and Spampinato each netted two goals for Liberty.

Cheyenne Van Echo scored the lone goal for Catoctin.

Brandel credited his team’s playoff success to a toughness forged by playing in such a competitive county, where each week feels like the postseason.

Liberty's Jenna Evans gets past Catoctin defender Madelyn Binnix before firing a shot resulting in a first half goal during a 1A state quarterfinal girls lacrosse game at Liberty High School on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Liberty's Jenna Evans gets past Catoctin defender Madelyn Binnix before firing a shot resulting in a first half goal during a 1A state quarterfinal girls lacrosse game at Liberty High School on Monday, June 14, 2021. (Brian Krista/Carroll County Times)

“They say that iron sharpens iron,” he said. “We play in the toughest public-school league in Carroll County and our girls have played in playoff-like games all season long. Every game with us is almost like a playoff game so we have grown a lot as the season has gone on and we are excited to continue on.”

Goals: L-Val Thompson 4, Ally Pond 2, Jenna Evans 2, Emily Spampinato 2, Riley Matthiesen 2, Anna Culver, Emily Van Reenan, Annika Wray, Kayleigh Ward, Caitlin O’Dea, Abby Ozgard, Brynn Hollenberger, Mariah Williams; C-Cheyenne Van Echo

Assists: L-Val Thompson 2, Riley Matthiesen, Jenna Evans, Campbell Baker

Saves: L-2 (Halley Feaga); C — 9 (Emma Stream 5, Phoenix Moore 4)

Halftime: Liberty, 14-0.

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