Liberty on top of state’s lacrosse landscape


The two best Division I lacrosse teams in the state, thanks to equally impressive one-goal wins in their respective state championship games, call the same place home: Olentangy Liberty.

The Patriots, who have been knocking on the door for years, are now at the top of the state’s lacrosse landscape.

The girls got the party started on Friday, coupling early offense with lock-down defense late to secure a 6-5 win over Upper Arlington.

Corinna Hilmas broke the scoring seal with an unassisted goal at the 8:41 mark of the first quarter. Upper Arlington’s Ava Stummer evened things up with a goal on a free-position shot, but Liberty answered with three unanswered to take control.

Isabelle Pohmer scored a pair, the first at the end of the first quarter and the second a few minutes into the second, and Hilmas added her second goal off a nice feed from Brenna Heffernan to make it a 4-1 game with 4:32 left in the first half.

The Golden Bears would rally — a pair of goals from Evie Ruma and another from Brogan Wiles knotted things at four early in the third quarter — but the Patriots, who never trailed, scored the next two to take the lead for good.

Isabelle Pohmer put Liberty up 5-4 with an unassisted goal at the 9:25 mark of the third and, after neither team managed to find the back of the net for the rest of the quarter, Madeline Pohmer scored a minute into the fourth to make it 6-4.

UA got a bit closer with a goal from Lilly Boyle less than a minute later, but that’s as close as things would get as the defenses took charge from there.

The Bears got a possession in the final seconds, but couldn’t get off a game-tying shot.

Patriot goalie Evie Howenstine more than held up her end of the bargain, too, finishing with four saves in the win.

Saturday, it was the boys’ turn to take center stage.

Cincinnati St. Xavier’s Brady Bennett scored less than a minute into the second half, that after his team finished the first on a 5-1 run to even things up a couple minutes before the break, but Liberty took the lead for good after that as back-to-back goals from Keegan Kuhns propelled the Patriots to a 15-14 win.

After Liberty’s Luca Minniti tied it with an unassisted tally at the 10:18 mark of the third quarter, Kuhns answered a Khalif Hocker goal with a pair of his own.

Hocker, who finished with a game-best six goals for the Bombers, tied it at 12 with 1:44 left in the third, but Jake Struck put the Patriots up for good with a goal with 40 seconds left in the quarter.

Liberty led by as many as three in the fourth thanks to a Minniti goal to cap a quick 3-0 burst … a spree that turned out to be the difference.

The Bombers got within one after Bennett scored with 8:12 left, but neither team scored the rest of the way.

Kuhns and Struck led the Patriots. Both had five goals while Struck added a team-high three assists. Ben Godwin got the win between the posts, finishing with 16 saves.

Hocker had six goals for St. Xavier while Bennett and Spencer Stegbauer closed with two apiece. Goalie Trent Yelton had eight saves in the setback.

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