Liberty built its girls lacrosse program around a potent offense, but this year the defense is leading the charge for the No. 13 Lions. That much was clear in last night's 12-4 victory over North Carroll in the county opener for both teams in Eldersburg.
"We're not as strong [offensively] as we were last year," said coach Courtney Vaughn. "But our defense is as strong or stronger."
She probably won't get much argument from the Panthers. North Carroll dominated the draws, 13-5, but the Panthers were not able to convert faceoffs to scoring opportunities.
Liberty's defenders, led by Lyndsey Pohlit, were busy breaking up passes, knocking the ball loose from the Panthers' sticks and otherwise making life difficult for the North Carroll attack. Lions goalie Heather Carter did not have to turn back many shots, but she stuffed three point-blank North Carroll attempts in a 20-second span in the second half.
And it wasn't just a two-person show for the Lions, whose attackers become tight-checking, double-teaming defenders whenever they turn the ball over.
Liberty's offense, meanwhile, had its ups and downs. The Lions scored on five of their first six shots while building a 5-2 lead with 10: 50 to play in the first half. But their next eight shots either went astray or were stopped by North Carroll goalie Carisa Kreichauf as the two teams went scoreless for 15 minutes.
Even with the Lions (4-1, 1-0) converting 80 percent of their shots early on, North Carroll (3-2, 0-1) kept it close. Tiffany Dresel scored to pull the Panthers to within 3-2 a little over nine minutes into the game, but Trisha Shaw countered with two unassisted scores in a 35-second span to put the Lions up 5-2.
Although Liberty dominated the final minutes of the first half and the early part of the second, they couldn't score. Part of the reason was Kreichauf, but Vaughn said her team's shot selection didn't help, either. "We were taking some really poor-angled shots," she said. "We're not as patient as we need to be around the goal."
But Liberty got hot again about four minutes after intermission, scoring five straight, including four in less than six minutes, to put the game out of reach.
Despite the score, North Carroll coach Denean Koontz was upbeat. The Panthers were in the game early and played Liberty evenly over the last eight minutes. And this year's meeting was 10 goals closer than last season's 21-3 Liberty win.
Pub Date: 4/12/96