Liberty won one for the little guy — or gal — Saturday at the 4 Causes 4 Champions girls lacrosse tournament, a showdown of all four 2022 state champions.
Class 1A champ Liberty, the smallest school in the field, upset the two biggest schools to win the tournament. The No. 12 Lions defeated Class 4A champ and No. 7 Broadneck, 8-7, in the title game and beat Class 3A champ and No. 6 Marriotts Ridge, 14-9, in the semifinal at Troy Park in Elkridge. All three are two-time defending state champions.
“It feels amazing,” said Lions senior attacker Riley Matthiesen, who scored four goals including the game winner and had two assists in the final. “Everyone comes out and thinks, ‘Oh, it’s the 1A team,’ like it’s going to be easy and I think we represented 1A. Just because we’re a small school doesn’t mean we don’t have talent.”
The field also included Class 2A champion Century, which won the tournament last year. The No. 13 Knights defeated Marriotts Ridge in the consolation.
This time, Liberty earned all the bragging rights.
“We came into the tournament not knowing if we’d get a win, so to win two is great,” said Liberty coach Tom Brandel. “We know we have a good team and we know that if we play our best, we can play with anybody, so we had a good day today and we learned a lot from our last game that we pulled out, so it was an exciting day.”
Brandel came up with the idea for the tournament after Liberty won the 2021 state championship. He thought “it would be cool to get all four state champions together.” Last year, Marriotts Ridge had already committed to a tournament, so Century, the defending Carroll County champion, filled in.
He also made playing for charitable causes part of the tournament which, he said, club girls lacrosse does very well. Liberty supported the American Brain Tumors Association, something near to Brandel, whose wife was diagnosed with a brain tumor almost a year ago. Broadneck played for mental health awareness and Morgan’s Message; Century, for dwarfism awareness and Little People of American; and Marriotts Ridge, for breast cancer awareness and Susan G. Komen.
In the championship game, the Lions (5-1) dominated the draw, 13-4, and fought off a second-half rally as Broadneck scored four straight times and took a 7-6 lead on Olivia Orso’s goal with 7 minutes, 47 seconds left.
The Lions had gotten a goal from Jenna Evans and two from Matthiesen in the final 2:27 of the first half to tie at 6, but the Broadneck (4-2) turned the game on goals from Lexi Dupcak, Lilly Kelley and Orso to run their lead to 9-6.
Peyton Allgaier won the next draw for the Bruins — their only draw control of the second half —and Orso came around the crease to take a pass from Kelley, throw a fake and slip the ball in for the lead.
Controlling the final three draws of the game helped spark the Lions’ victory.
After Matthiesen grabbed the next draw, Taylor Jendrek raced down the middle to tie at 7 with 5:19 left. Matthiesen then scored on a free position with 3:24 left. Emily Spampinato won the final draw and the Lions maintained possession most of the rest of the game despite one turnover.
“They’re a very aggressive team,” Broadneck coach Katy Kelley said. “They’re super fast, very disciplined, great on 50-50 balls so I was impressed.”
Evans and Jendrek won four draws each and Matthiesen won two. Evans, who takes the draw, said they’ve been playing together for so long that they trust each other and excel at communicating.
Evans and Mattiesen won five draws each in the win over Marriotts Ridge where they also scored four goals each.
“The draw can change the game, for sure,” Evans said. “Some games, we’re not winning them at all and it really shows in the score, so getting the draw, starting off strong, getting the ball down and scoring is huge for our team.”
The Bruins, who won their semifinal 9-8 over Century on Dupak’s free-position goal with 43 seconds left, were led by two goals and an assist from Kelley in the Liberty game. They lost one goal to a dangerous follow through call and hit the pipe a couple of times, but not being able to get the draw against the Lions hurt the most.
Despite the loss, Katy Kelley said she likes the chance to play good teams the Bruins wouldn’t otherwise face.
“I just think it’s fun to cross over the classifications,” she said. I think it’s fun for the girls. I also think it’s fun for the coaches to meet each other and compete and see different things. It’s not a team I know like Severna Park who I see all the time. It’s a different team that has the same abilities but they just give me different stuff to look at. It is fun — and then the causes, reminding the girls that the game’s over, this is bigger than lacrosse.”
In the consolation game, Jane Brewer scored five goals and Delaney Sandbank scored four for Century (4-1) in a 13-6 win over Marriotts Ridge. Sophia Baxter had three goals for the Mustangs (3-3), who played the spring break tournament without several starters.
4 CAUSES 4 CHAMPIONS TOURNAMENT
(at Troy Park, Elkridge)
NO. 12 LIBERTY 8, NO. 7 BROADNECK 7
Broadneck 3 4 — 7
Liberty 6 2 — 8
GOALS: B—Lilly Kelley 2, Olivia Orso 2, Lexi Dupcak, Mary Moore; L—Riley Matthiesen 4, Kourtney Goff 2, Jenna Evans, Ally Pond.
ASSISTS: B—Mary Moore 2, Lilly Kelley, Cayman Holmes; L—Riley Matthiesen 2, Annika Wray.
SAVES: B—Megan Shields 5; L—Emily Pond 2; Halley Feaga 2.
NO. 13 CENTURY 14, NO. 6 MARRIOTTS RIDGE 6
LIBERTY 14, MARRIOTTS RIDGE 9
BROADNECK 9, CENTURY 8