Just as it has rebounded from a slow start this season, the Liberty boys lacrosse team excelled at playing catch-up last night against rival South Carroll.
After falling behind by three early, the host Lions rallied with four straight goals, then notched the game-winner on Brian Denny's scoop shot off a restart 1:55 into sudden-death overtime in a 6-5 win.
Liberty (6-4 overall, 2-2 Carroll County, 6-2 Central Maryland Conference) continued what has become a torrid second half of the season.
After starting 0-4 and averaging just three goals per game, the Lions have won six straight, and have averaged more than 11 goals during the stretch.
"It's definitely been a matter of confidence," said Liberty first-year coach Kevin Roy. "The kids' attitudes have also changed. It took them awhile to get used to me as a coach."
In the early minutes last night, it looked as if Liberty's hot streak had come to an end.
After a defensive battle throughout the first quarter, which ended with the teams tied at 1-1, South Carroll (6-3, 2-2, 4-2) broke loose with three goals in 1:57 - including two by Brad Kisic - to take a 4-1 lead with just under 5 minutes left in the half.
It was a period that saw the Cavaliers keep control of the ball by winning faceoffs, forcing turnovers and beating the Lions to ground balls.
From then on, however, the Lions took control, cashing in on their offensive opportunities and getting stellar play in goal by senior Pete DiLeonardi (23 saves).
"I think it was just a matter of getting the ball on offense," Roy said. "We played too much defense in the beginning of the game. We finally started to win faceoffs and get possession."
Liberty fought back to tie the game with three straight goals, including two by Rob Reahl in the third quarter. Reahl might have scored three in the quarter, but referees ruled that another apparent goal hit the outside of the net.
Matthew Latham's effort with 9:29 left then gave Liberty a 5-4 lead before South Carroll's Eric Vollmerhausen forced overtime on a power-play goal with 1:57 left in regulation.
Denny's game-winner came on a scoop shot from close-range after a restart in back of the net.
"I got the pass from behind [the goal] and just went around the goalie and put it in," Denny said. "We knew we could beat this team. Everyone played well."
It was the second straight loss for South Carroll, which was coming off a deflating 15-4 loss to county favorite Westminster on Friday.