COLUMBIA — Westminster sophomore midfielder Anna Ruby called teammate Sara Tyssowski the backbone of the Owls' defense.
The Owls' goalie continues to surprise the team, Ruby said, and her ability to get the transition going fuels their fire.
Tyssowski made 10 saves in goal despite sloppy conditions Tuesday at Cedar Lane Park, where the Owls garnered their ninth win of the season with a 14-8 decision over Liberty. Ruby scored four goals while Amy Jarvis and Caroline Frock each added three.
Tyssowski, a sophomore, is relishing her experience as a first-year varsity player.
"It's been amazing," Tyssowski said. "Everyone here is so supportive and my defense is just amazing. They help me through everything and they really listen so it's nice working with them."
The Owls (4-1 in the county) built a 6-1 lead over Liberty despite an early goal from Lions freshman midfielder Alanna Wray just a minute in to the contest. Ruby scored three of her four goals during that 6-0 run, her third coming off a feed from Frock with 16 minutes, 9 seconds on the clock.
Liberty senior midfielder Grace Griffin's free-position goal seven minutes in trimmed the deficit to 6-2. Frock and Griffin then swapped a pair of goals apiece for their teams in the final 10 minutes of the first half. Senior attacker Paige Sedlar found the back of the net unassisted on the man-up advantage to give Westminster a 10-4 lead at the break.
Tyssowski faced pressure from Liberty's attack late in the second half but put up a pair of crucial saves in the process. Griffin sneaked a pass through to teammate Hannah Miller, whose shot bounced off the crossbar but landed behind the goal line to bring the Lions (4-7, 2-3) within seven of the Owls at 12-5.
Junior goalie Carleigh Porter came in for Westminster with less than 10 minutes to play. The Owls got two more goals, while Miller and Jenny Anuszewski controlled the Lions' offense in the closing minutes. Anuszewski scored the final two goals — both unassisted — and her second came with a second on the clock.
Lions coach Taylor Cassatt, a Liberty graduate, said the girls have been a "blessing" to have in her first year at the helm.
"I think any season has its ups and downs, ours hasn't been any different," Cassatt said. "We had a huge win against South Carroll where we were losing at one point and we came back so that showed a lot of effort and courage. We would have liked to come away with a win today but they just didn't come out and perform as well, so we're going to roll right into Winters Mill and hopefully have a good outcome of that game."
Westminster entered Tuesday's game after most recently defeating county rival Century (9-2, 3-1) on Friday. If Manchester Valley (9-1, 5-0) loses to Century on Thursday, and all three teams finish with 5-1 county records, each will share a piece of the county title.
"I think it's just playing as a team effort," Owls coach Jackie Stevens said. "The communication all around from our defense to our midfield to our attack and they're playing smart. They're listening to each other and listening to the coaches and they really know how to play as a team."
The chemistry is only building, Ruby said.
"We're nearing, surprisingly, the end of the season and we feel as if we're just getting stronger with each game," Ruby said. "We love to go out and have more opportunities to improve and work on that team chemistry."