Liberty’s girls lacrosse team isn’t trying to do anything “fancy” this season.
Lions first-year coach Tom Brandel said Wednesday’s 14-12 Carroll County Athletic League victory over Winters Mill was just one example of the team’s hard work paying off. The Lions are undefeated through four starts this spring, matching their win total from 2018.
Freshman midfielder Valerie Thompson scored four goals for the Lions (4-0, 1-0 CCAL). Juniors Alanna Wray and Morgan Sutherland each notched three goals, and Wray contributed an assist as well.
“Our last season wasn’t the greatest so this season we’re really focusing on having the best possible season we can and working together,” Sutherland said. “At practices we focus on ground balls and working hard and less about ‘This person is going to do this.’ We’re all working as hard as we can to get the win.”
Liberty scored five goals in an eight-minute span to start the game, and Sutherland contributed her three tallies in that stretch to help the Lions lead 5-0. Her free-position tally sparked the scoring run and she ripped a low shot that flew past Falcons goalie Reilly Lockwood for the team’s fifth goal.
WM sophomore attacker Sophia Barnes had back-to-back assists on goals from Madison Harmening and Becca Thompson as the Falcons scored four straight to trim the deficit to 5-4. Harmening, who finished with four goals, scored her second from the free position during the team’s run.
The teams went goal-for-goal in the expiring minutes of the first half. Wray scored twice, picking up her second goal after winning the draw with 1:10 left, and the Lions led 8-6 at the half.
Barnes and Harmening connected again to tie the score 8-8 with less than three minutes into the second half, but the Lions reeled off four straight goals to take a 14-9 lead. Thompson knocked in a point-blank shot off a feed from Barnes to cut into the Lions’ lead, and Megan Thomas made it 14-11.
Liberty received a yellow card with 8:54 remaining in the game – the team’s fourth – and the Lions had to play down a player for the remainder of the contest. The Falcons (2-1, 0-1) cut the lead to 14-12 on a connection between Katelyn Heffner and Harmening, but the Lions maintained possession through most of the final eight minutes.
Brandel has nearly 20 years of experience coaching boys lacrosse at the recreational, club, high school, and collegiate levels. He was the junior varsity coach at Marriotts Ridge for two seasons prior to coming to Liberty.
“Just to play against a team like Winters Mill who is one of the strongest teams in the county and go up 5-0, we knew they were going to come back,” Brandel said. “That’s what they did against Patterson Mill. They were down eight goals and came back, that’s an awesome team over there. They’re well-coached. My girls just tried to fight for the little things, ground balls and trying to get the next draw and tried to stay in the moment and make the next play.
“I thought we did a good job of that and our girls answered. When they scored, we scored for the most part and Winters Mill is an excellent team.”
Goals: L-Heidi Ellis 2, Alanna Wray 3, Valerie Thompson 4, Leah Faunce, Morgan Sutherland 3, Emily Van Reenan; WM-Becca Thompson 3, Sophia Barnes 2, Kaitlyn Thompson, Megan Thomas 2, Madison Harmening 4.
Assists: L-Wray, Meghan Huey, Caitlin Mulholland; WM-Katelyn Heffner, Barnes 4.
Saves: L-10 (Hannah Shrader); WM-3 (Reilly Lockwood).