Opportunities to showcase itself against the area’s top private school programs don’t come around all that often for Liberty. So when the undefeated Lions took to the road Tuesday to square off against IAAM A Conference foe McDonogh, they were more than ready to make the most of it.
Senior Caroline Evans scored on a fast break in overtime — her second goal of the afternoon — to lift Liberty to a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the Eagles and improve the team to 10-0 this fall.
“Phenomenal,” Liberty head coach Brenda Strohmer said of Evans. “I’ve got nothing more than phenomenal. To get a fast break against McDonogh is just crazy. That’s our strong thing — just the fast breaks are our strong suit, they talk, they work well together. Then, she stops, she pulls back, she shoots — I mean, that’s a phenomenal goalie. She took all of the right steps to get that goal.”
Getting the win against a program like McDonogh solidified Strohmer’s strong belief in her program as a whole and the fortitude of the girls that make it up. Liberty came into this fall as the defending 2A state champions.
“They stick together, they play so hard together and they practice so hard together and they’ve been wanting this game — and I mean it for years,” Strohmer said. “So, the fact that we actually got it and that we got the win is just awesome. They worked hard for it.”
Within the first 10 minutes of the match, Liberty and McDonogh took aim at the goal, but the ball just wouldn’t bounce their respective ways. Then, with a little less than 19 minutes left in the first half, McDonogh freshman Piper Borz scored to give the Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Playing from behind, Liberty stayed the course. Roughly 13 minutes later, in the final minutes of the opening half, Liberty struck for their first goal of the game on an assist from Riley Pardoe to Evans on a corner to tie things up going into the break.
“I had Riley Pardoe insert instead of me because I decided that we should probably have somebody on pads because the goalie was so good,” Evans said of her first goal. “And I think that we just had a good deflection so it just went in at the right time.”
Goalies Mikayla Bull of Liberty and Liv Geoghan of McDonogh traded strong saves throughout the second half of the game. Each goalie made save after save — Geoghan kicking the ball into the air and Bull pushing the ball out. Bull finished the game with 10 saves, while Geoghan finished with six.
“Liv has been our goalie for four years now,” said McDonogh head coach Denise Wolf. “She came out as a freshman and earned half the time as a freshman. So, she’s been the backbone of our team for three years now. She is always going to have those good saves.”
Neither team found the cage during the second half, sending the contest to overtime. It was there that Evans was able to finally get out on the break to score, securing possession on the defensive end of the field and racing to goal.
The fast break initially seemed to materialize from a non-call, with McDonogh players asking for a corner. With no call made, Evans took advantage by converting on her one-on-one opportunity with Geoghan.
Despite the tough end to a close game, Wolf spoke highly of her team’s performance. She also made no excuses for her team not being able to finish.
“We showed up today, we dominated, we had so many shots on goal, but we could not finish the ball,” said Wolf. “You can’t win without scoring. Liberty has always been a strong program — I coach a lot of those girls on my club team. It was fun to play them. It was a good game all around.”
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Liberty will go on the road to take on Westminster at 4 p.m. on Thursday and McDonogh (6-6) will face off against Notre Dame Prep at home on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.