The Liberty boys' lacrosse team has reloaded after reaching the Class 2A/1A state semifinals last season.
The Lions have an experienced roster and have opened the season with six consecutive victories. Liberty is averaging 12.5 goals per game and allowing just five -- that balance has been a key part of the success.
"We need to be consistent and improve every time we take the field -- be it for practice or games, we want to work to be better," Liberty head coach Mike Flemming said. "The strength of our team comes from our seniors' experience -- most who started to play on the varsity team as sophomores. We have a great mix of talented underclassmen. We need to continue to play with intensity and up to the level of our team goals and expectations."
The attack is led by senior Jared Cirulli, who has emerged as one of the top offensive weapons in the metro area. Last season, he led Carroll County with 68 goals and 37 assists for 105 points. Cirulli has continued to dominate this year and scored seven goals during a 14-10 victory against a powerful Glenelg team April 4.
"Jared continues to improve every offseason, but we wait until after the season to recognize how much," Flemming said. "He is playing with more confidence. He has a tremendous lacrosse IQ and a great shot. He is extremely unselfish and is happy to assist as much as score. He plays equally well with his right and left hands. He is successful despite teams keying on him and being the focus of a defense, but when they do try to shut him down, he opens up the rest of the team."
Jack Boyer and Mark Conway have also been solid on the attack.
Liberty has shown great balance this season. Flemming credits Nick Griffin, Kevin Lynch and Jordan Santis for being especially tough on defense. Also playing key roles are Jack Myers, long-stick middie Nick Bonomo and goalie Evan McCarthy
Faceoff specialist Jason Stead has played a vital role in helping Liberty dominate in possession. The midfield has been led by Michael Smith, Nate Lamb, Paul Fiscella, Jarrett Pfeifer and Noah Rohrer.
"They all need to be recognized because of the balance that we have as a team and how they have each embraced their given roles," Flemming said. "Will Yeo, my defensive coordinator, has done a fantastic job with this group over the last couple of years of preaching communication, position and footwork. Nick Griffin is our defensive quarterback, but when he and Jordan Santis were both out for the first game of the season, Corey Luthe and Grant Cavender stepped in and played like they had been career starters. I believe that our preparation and 'next man up' mentality are truly a team strength. Plus, when you get consistently great play from our goalie, Evan McCarthy, we feel that we are balanced in all phases of the game."
Liberty has a strong tradition for athletics across all sports. Flemming hopes his team is ready to carry on that strong tradition.
"We want to continue to improve as a team each and every day," he said. "At the beginning of the season, we were forced to practice in our main gym. There are all types of athletic banners hanging in the gym with Liberty's county, conference, regional and state championships for all of our sports. I asked them where they would like to end up at the end of the season, told them that they would have to earn it, and then I blew the whistle for them to run."