Mark Donahue called it redemption. Joe Onheiser called it another step in the right direction.
Whatever the term, Liberty loudly declared its presence in the race for the county championship with an 11-4 pounding of defending Carroll County champion Westminster in the Owls' football stadium.
The Lions, who have won four straight games since a 7-5 loss to Westminster on April 4, improved to 4-1 in the county and 5-3 overall. And Liberty -- which overtook the Owls for the county lead -- did it with an equal amount of offensive explosion and gritty defensive work.
Donahue, a junior attack who leads the county in scoring with 36 points, provided the offense, scoring four of the Lions' first six goals and tallying four assists.
"This was mostly redemption," said Donahue, who got help from sophomore attack Chuck Henn (two goals and an assist). "We felt like we should've won the last game with Westminster, and we decided to step it up tonight."
ka-15 On the other end of the field, the senior defensive trio of Todd Bell, Cameron Cook, and Onheiser kept Owls playmaker and junior attack Kyle Zentz and senior attack Ian Park from scoring a single point.
"This was big because we knew that we needed to win if we wanted to get a county championship," Onheiser said. "Everybody wants this, and tonight we played as a team and won as a team."
Westminster, which suffered its first loss in county play this season (3-1 in the county and 5-2 overall), didn't score a goal for the first 14 minutes and finished with its lowest output since a 12-3 loss to River Hill on April 3.
But Lions coach Sal Picataggi said afterwards that he was not satisfied with a second half in which his squad scored only three goals.
"We still haven't put togther a full game yet," Picataggi said. "I was unhappy about the second half. We weren't moving the ball the way we like to."
Liberty had little problem moving the ball in the first half as Donahue consistently sliced through a gap in the Owls defense to get to the net. His second and third goals of the game involved Donahue curling around the cage and beating Westminster senior goalkeeper Greg Puttman (seven saves).
Trailing 4-0 with six minutes left in the second quarter, the Owls seemed to turn the momentum with a goal from senior attack Kyle Koslowski and a one-minute penalty against Onheiser for an illegal check after the score.
But after senior midfielder Kris Gooding won one of his 12 face-offs, Donahue deked two Westminster defenders, ran down the slot, and found a wide-open Henn at the right post for an easy goal.
The Owls finished with 21 shots, but every time a Westminster player attempted to pass a stick from a Lions defender seemed to bat the ball away.
Owls coach Jim Peters said he believed Liberty's ability to maintain possession -- including winning 12 of 18 faceoffs and owning a 35-24 advantage in groundballs -- was the key.
"I think we got beat between the lines," Peters said. "They did a good job facing off against us today, and we couldn't pick up a groundball between the lines."