Liberty ousts C. Milton Wright, 9-5

Lions correct mistakes from April loss to Mustangs

May 22, 1999|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

While some coaches routinely pad their regular-season schedules with easy victories, Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn annually fills her non-conference slate with some of the area's elite teams.

It's a strategy that, though not always conducive to the best won-loss record, seemed to pay off handsomely in yesterday's Class 3A-4A state semifinal.

Facing a C. Milton Wright team that handed them one of their two losses during the season, the Lions corrected most of their earlier mistakes en route to a 9-5 win at UMBC that sent them to their first state final since 1995.

"That's why we schedule the way we do," said Vaughn. "It was a great loss, because we learned a lot from the game. We learned that this is a team that can score three goals in three minutes. And we learned what happens when you don't mark up on a clear, because that's how they got five of their eight goals."

The Lions (17-2) advanced to Tuesday's Class 3A-4A championship game at UMBC, where they will face the winner of today's Dulaney-Annapolis semifinal. Liberty, which lost to Annapolis in last year's semifinals, will be making its third title-game appearance in six years.

To get there, the Lions had to improve upon their performance in April's 8-6 loss to the Mustangs.

They started strong, taking a 3-0 lead in the first 14: 16 on goals by Michelle Allen (three goals, one assist), Becky Trumbo (three goals) and Kelly Fiorani.

Led by Jen Berarducci, the Lions' defense looked strong, as well, keeping the Mustangs away from the goal.

Toward halftime, they began to penetrate, with Rachel Sappington, Lauren Cramer and Lauren Hess each scoring goals in the final 8: 54 to cut the lead to 5-3.

"We thought the keys to the game were denying [Hess] and [Sappington], and we didn't do it as good as we wanted to in the first half," said Vaughn.

For Wright coach Paul Snyder, why the Mustangs (12-3-1) matched their lowest scoring output of the season was no mystery.

"We didn't take care of the ball. Our fundamentals deserted us," said Snyder, whose 18-player roster included 10 freshmen and sophomores. "It looked like maybe our young kids were in awe of where we were. I said at halftime that we probably played as poor a half as we had all year and were only down two. But we didn't string three passes together the whole game."

State semifinals

Yesterday's results (At UMBC)

Class 1A-2A

Mount Hebron 9, South River 6

Class 3A-4A

Liberty 9, C. Milton Wright 5

Today's games (At UMBC)

Class 1A-2A

Edgewood vs. Towson, 3

Class 3A-4A

Dulaney vs. Annapolis, 5

State finals (At UMBC)

Tuesday's game

Class 3A-4A, 6

Wednesday's game

Class 1A-2A, 8

Pub Date: 5/22/99

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