ELDERSBURG — Capitalizing on draw controls is one of the most crucial components to girls lacrosse, and it helps a team take control of the game.
Liberty took that control Tuesday, winning nearly 70 percent of the draws to knock off Northeast of Anne Arundel County 14-10 in its home opener.
Sophomore Alanna Wray paved the way for the Lions with six goals and three assists. Heidi Ellis and Emily VanReenan each had three goals, and goalie Hannah Shrader made eight saves.
Lions second-year coach Taylor Cassatt named Wray a captain this season, folllowing a year in which she helped Liberty reached the state semifinals, and cited Wray’s leadership as a deciding factor.
“She’s a great investment,” Cassatt said. “We put trust in her and we know she’s going to progress over the years, which is why we’re putting a lot of faith in her at a young age knowing she’s only going to get better.”
Ellis and Wray each scored early in the first half to help the Lions get on the board. VanReenan won the draw and carried the ball down to score with 13:16 remaining in the half to give the Lions a 4-2 lead.
The Lions led 6-2 with less than 10 minutes to play in the first half when a time out was called. Northeast senior midfielder Laura Skorobatch had scored her first of two goals on the night, but Wray responded with her third goal to make it 7-3.
Ellis and Wray scored within 40 seconds of each other to close out the first half. Wray assisted Ellis’ tally and Wray scored off the free position with five seconds to go.
“Overall, it’s been a really good experience,” Wray said. “Last year I got to play with some of the best of the best like Grace Griffin and Hannah Miller, and they were just really welcoming to me. And I only had two other freshmen starting with me, so it was a little scary coming in but honestly my experience here has been absolutely amazing.
“I couldn’t ask for a better team, seriously.”
Northeast (4-2) got two straight tallies from Madison Hobbs and McKenzie Hynson to trim the deficit 10-7 but Wray and Caitlin Mulholland netted back-to-back goals to put the Lions up 12-7. The Lions continued to dominate the draw when VanReenan took another straight to the goal with 9:37 left to play.
After the win, Cassatt said she spoke with Ellis, another team captain, and told her the amount of draw controls she had was one of the game’s turning points. Cassatt said she was very pleased with that performance Tuesday — the Lions won 18 draws to dominate Northeast.
“I definitely think the draw was a key component in this win,” Wray said. “I think that we’ve really been working hard in practice just to get off the line and try to work hard for the groundballs so I think that was really key today.”
The Lions (1-2) dropped their first two games at Walkersville and Patterson Mill, but Wray said Tuesday’s victory was a good example of what’s to come for Liberty this season. The team opens county play at home Thursday against Winters Mill.
“This is just the starting point,” Wray said. “We’re on to the next one and we’re definitely looking to be better and continue to keep growing for our team on the field and off the field as people as well as players.”
Goals: N-Madison Hobbs, Sydney Makarovich 2, McKenzie Hynson 2, Laura Skorobatch 2, Emma Borgert, Alyssa Borgert 2. L-Alanna Wray 6, Heidi Ellis 3, Emily VanReenan 3, Caitlin Mulholland 2.
Assists: N-Morgan James; L-Wray 3, Lilly Rainey 2.
Saves: N-12 (Sydney Wingate); L-8 (Hannah Shrader).
Halftime: Liberty, 10-5.