In lacrosse, at the start of every quarter and after every goal, the teams have a face-off. Two players square off, low to the ground, poised to grab the ball as soon as the whistle blows. What they do, and the speed at which they do it, can determine the outcome of a game. Gain possession often enough for your team, and you have an advantage on par with a head start in a race.
In lacrosse, a good face-off midfielder ranks second only to the goalie. An exceptional face-off midfielder ranks second to none.
Andrew Liu is a very, very good face-off midfielder. And he’s only getting better.
“The fact is, every time we score a goal, there’s an 80 percent chance that we’re going to get the ball back right away,” said Coach Chris Dietrich. “We get twice as many offensive possessions, simply because of what he does.”
In his breakout year as a junior, Coach Dietrich estimates Mr. Liu started winning 65 percent of his face-offs. (And was named All League for his efforts.) This year, that number has been on the rise—and is one of the reasons Coach Dietrich believes the Wildcats were able to top The Taft School by 9-8 for the first time in the program’s history.
“This year, he’s probably hovering around 80 percent and he has been an absolute force at the face-off X,” Coach Dietrich said. “There’s no way we would have beaten Taft, had he not had the kind of game he had on face-offs.”
On Monday, Mr. Liu confirmed that Assumption College will have the benefit of his midfield talents next year when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play with the Greyhounds. Mr. Liu said he chose the school for its beautiful campus, great academic reputation, and strong lacrosse program.
“I am excited to be a part of a program that competes in such a tough conference,” Mr. Liu wrote in an email. “Coach Loftis is a great coach and I believe my playing style and his ideas are very similar.”
Earlier this month, the Greyhounds qualified for the Northeast-10 Tournament for the first time since 2011. They have a 8-6 overall and 5-4 in league record this year.
The Wildcats are also in the middle of the season, having racked up a 6-1 record so far this spring—their historically best record at this point in the year. Along with the historic Taft win, the Wildcats recently beat Millbrook School for the first time since 2009.
“If you have a really exceptional face-off person, they literally change the nature of the game,” said Coach Dietrich. “This a specialty other schools want, we’re not the only one.”