Alumni News

Division I women’s hockey team claims second ACHA national title

March 18, 2018 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty captains Courtney Gilmour (left), C.J. Tipping, and Vanessa DeMerchant raise the ACHA Division I women's hockey championship cup in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joel Coleman)Liberty University’s top-ranked ACHA Division I women’s hockey team will bring home its second national championship trophy in four seasons after fending off second-seeded Adrian College, 2-1, in Sunday’s final at the Ice Haus in Columbus, Ohio.

After freshman forward and Tournament MVP Shelby Bradford netted a power-play goal in the second period, sophomore forward Alex Smibert, the Lady Flames’ leading scorer in the tournament, provided a critical score with 4:30 remaining in regulation to pad Liberty’s lead to 2-0.

Graduate goalie Chantal Kerr, who started between the pipes when Liberty captured its first national title in 2015, was sensational in the net once again for the Lady Flames, stopping numerous dangerous scoring chances by the Bulldogs.

A day after dominating Colorado, 12-1, in the semifinal round, the Lady Flames were in a dogfight to the end of the championship game. Liberty preserved its one-goal lead as it smothered the puck on a defensive-zone faceoff in the final three seconds of play.

“That’s playoff hockey,” said Liberty first-year Head Coach Chris Lowes. “You’ve got to find a way to survive. Hockey can be brutal, and I feel for Adrian because we’ve been in that situation.”

Liberty and Adrian were ranked first and second, respectively, for 14 of this season’s 15 ACHA DI polls, with the Lady Flames reclaiming the No. 1 spot from the Bulldogs by beating them, 4-1, on their home ice on Nov. 17 in Michigan.

Read complete coverage on Liberty’s Club Sports team page.