Val Thompson has been the engine that makes Liberty girls lacrosse go. On Friday night, she and her teammates were firing on all cylinders.
Liberty dominated the draws and put its offense in high gear, scoring nine straight goals at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to defeat Southern, 18-7, in the Class 1A state semifinals at Havre de Grace High School.
The Lions (12-7), the reigning 1A state champions, will have a chance to defend their title when they face the winner of Saturday’s Fallston-Boonsboro game in next week’s Class 1A state championship. That game will be played at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex in Baltimore, with a date and time to be determined.
Thompson scored seven goals to pace the Lions, while junior Riley Matthiesen added five. Lyndsey Miller led Southern with four goals.
Equally impressive for the Lions was their defense. Liberty held Southern (9-7) scoreless for 20:39 in the middle of the game. The Bulldogs scored on a Miller free-position shot with 12:12 left in the half to tie the score at 4, but did not score again until 16:33 left in the second half. At that point, it was 13-5.
“It all starts with the draw,” Thompson said. “When we win those, we can push our transition game. I think that’s what happened tonight.”
The Lions jumped on Southern early, using a ball-control offense and their transition game to run out to a 4-1 lead with 18:07 left in the first half.
To their credit, the Bulldogs didn’t quit. Southern used a goal by Cecilia Rock and two free-position goals by Miller to tie the game at 4.
That’s when the Liberty defense kicked in. The Lions switched up a few things, and their speed and constant movement and switches seemed to confuse Southern. Meanwhile, at the other end, things were really heating up. Thompson and Matthiesen each scored three of the next six goals to give Liberty a 10-4 lead with 30 seconds left in the first half.
They added another goal just before halftime, this time by Jenna Evans with 13 seconds left, to take a commanding 11-4 lead at the break.
The second half was more of the same with the game ending with Liberty possessing the ball for extended periods and the scoreboard having a running clock.
“This is an awesome feeling,” said Thompson, who will play in college at Towson next year. “We get to go back and try and defend our title. We only have two seniors on the team and we get a chance to go for back-to-back titles.”
Carroll County Daily Headlines
Lions coach Tom Brandel said Thompson is instrumental to the team’s success.
“She does so much, from leadership to scoring,” Brandel said. “She’s gone from scoring a lot of goals to being a very unselfish player who will do whatever is needed. She’s going to Towson for a reason next year.”
As for Southern, the Bulldogs will also return a young squad next year. While disappointed with the result, coach Cortney Yeatman knows the future is bright.
“We struggled a little tonight with our draws,” Yeatman said. “We are the only 1A school in Anne Arundel County, so the girls on the team are extremely close. We’ll learn from this.”
Goals: L – Thompson 7, Matthiessen 5, Evans 4, A. Pond, Hollenberger, Jendrek; S – Miller 4, Rock, Huggins, Mudd.
Assists: L – A. Pond.
Saves: L – E. Pond 5, Feaga 0; S – Perkins 8.