Junior Lexi Riehl was not one of the seven members of the Air Academy girls’ lacrosse team to score in the Kadets’ 16-6 win over Liberty at the K Dome on Friday afternoon, but that did little to diminish her performance in her coach’s eyes.
Riehl, a defender stuck in her own half by rule, was named the game’s MVP by coach Kali Maxwell in a win that moved the Kadets (6-4) to 2-0 in the Southern League.
“She caused four turnovers today,” Maxwell said. “She was big in our transition, which has been a weakness for us this season. She just took care of the ball, made those turnovers when we needed the ball back.”
Riehl’s timely defense supported an offense that needed no help scoring.
Senior midfielder Avery Rodny scored the first of her four goals in the opening minute and added two assists for a team-high six points. Reagan Brenenstuhl, a junior attacker, also scored four, while freshman Grace Lichtenberger and senior Kayla Wallace added three and two tallies, respectively.
The Kadets scored six goals in the first 10 minutes before Liberty (4-6, 0-2) took a timeout.
“That’s a fast team,” Liberty coach DJ Stabler said.
“We’re learning to play at that speed. Games like that can only make us better.”
Lancers senior Abby Ross scored the first of her four goals just after play resumed, but Air Academy led 9-2 at the half and worked in reserves over the final 25 minutes.
“We played good,” Rodny said. “We didn’t back down. We got some of our swing players in, which was good to get everyone on the field.”
The next step for a Kadet group seeking a league championship is consistently performing as it did Friday.
“We played well. We’re pretty inconsistent, so that’s what we’ve been trying to work on, is playing a whole 50-minute game,” Maxwell said. “We looked better today than we have in previous games, but we still have some work to do.”
For Liberty, which features 10 new faces on a roster of 20, it’s about instilling confidence in the younger players. Ross, who scored 49 goals over her first three seasons, entered Friday’s game with 43 scores as a senior.
“She’s a great example, and that’s what we’ve been trying to use her as because she didn’t do a lot when she was in 9th or 10th grade either, and she could have,” Stabler said. “So that’s what we’re trying to get her to convey to those younger girls.”
As good as Ross was for Liberty, the Air Academy coach takes a larger view when it comes to her team's defensive responsibilities.
“I believe if we have seven solid defenders that are helping each other out, we can stop any player or any team,” Maxwell said.
Riehl anchored that effort on Friday.
“If we got beat, we were there for each other,” the junior said.
“Overall, it was a really good team effort on the defensive end.”