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JMU lacrosse celebrates a goal against George Mason on March 3.

After losing back-to-back games against ranked ACC opponents, JMU lacrosse broke out of its funk Thursday, defeating Liberty 8-5. The Dukes move to 5-3 (0-1 CAA) on the season, while Liberty drops to 5-5.

The game was a defensive battle right from the opening draw. Neither team scored for the first six-and-a-half minutes until Liberty senior midfielder Carly White got one past JMU redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Kat Buchanan. After redshirt sophomore attacker Kacey Knobloch scored to tie up the game, the Flames scored twice to take a 3-1 lead.

JMU outshot Liberty 15-6 and had nine shots on goal in the first half, but the Dukes struggled to get the ball into the net. Sophomore goalkeeper Jennifer Soriero had seven saves in the first half, only allowing two goals. Redshirt freshman midfielder Taylor Marchetti scored for JMU in the first half, and Liberty scored just under two minutes to go to take a 4-2 lead heading into the break. 

The second half was all Dukes. Redshirt freshman attacker Isabella Peterson scored twice in the first six minutes of the half to tie the game, and JMU didn’t let up. Redshirt junior attacker Daria Lucchesi scored twice to give the Dukes a 6-4 lead, and freshman attacker Katelyn Morgan made it five consecutive goals for JMU. After Liberty responded to end the Dukes’ run, redshirt sophomore defender Rachel Matey scored to put the game away.

Peterson’s now scored in every game of her collegiate career, and Lucchesi’s scored in 11 consecutive games dating back to last season. Matey tied a career-high with eight draw controls — the entire Liberty team had four.

Redshirt senior defender Emma Johnson had four ground balls, moving her into third all-time in JMU history with 157. Next on the list is second-place former defender Ashlee Dardine (2002-05) with 175. 

“Liberty played really hard and forced us to dig deep to win this game,” head coach Shelley Klaes said to JMU Athletics. “It was a huge defensive effort, holding them to one goal in the second half.”

JMU heads back to Sentara Park on April 10 for a CAA showdown with Hofstra. The opening draw is set for 2 p.m.

Contact the sports desk atbreezesports@gmail.com. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.