No. 14 Flames set for spring break trip to Michigan, Indiana
March 6, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Wednesday's snowfall postponed Thursday's midnight "Blackout" game against Tennessee Wesleyan to March 27, giving Liberty University's men's lacrosse team a full week of practice to prepare for next week's spring swing through Michigan and Indiana.
"Our spring break road trip is going to be our biggest test of the year by far," Flames head coach Kyle McQuillan said, noting the team will be playing four games in four days from next Wednesday through Saturday. "It's a lot of lacrosse in a short amount of time. It's going to be brutal. The schedule will test our endurance and physical stamina as well as our mental toughness."
The Flames (4-0) will be facing two ranked opponents — Grand Valley State, ranked No. 2 in MCLA Division II, and Indiana Tech ranked No. 11 — as well as Aquinas out of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Taylor University, a Christian school in Upland, Ind.
"Playing teams ranked ahead of us is good for our chances of moving up in the polls," McQuillan said a day before the Flames rose from No. 16 to No. 14 in Tuesday's Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association's DII rankings. "We're going in expecting to do well. My expectation is we can run with these guys if don't get caught up in the national rankings and just do what we're capable of doing. The (Grand Valley State) game is definitely winnable and a great opportunity to compete on that level. It's a good test for us."
Typically, college teams choose to venture south for games over spring break. Bucking the trend, Liberty has opted to go north instead for the chance to face better competition.
"Most teams travel south and get nice weather for spring break," McQuillan said. "We're doing the opposite. A lot of the (MCLA) top-25 teams are from the north. The goal for this trip is to play some good teams and earn some respect, to go into their houses and come away with wins."
That may be easier said than done, considering the climate change and level of competition.
"It's definitely going to get colder and not warmer," said McQuillan, whose team opened its season Feb. 17 with a 12-6 triumph over Charleston (S.C.) in freezing temperatures and blustery conditions at the Liberty Lacrosse Complex. "Unlike football, in lacrosse, we start playing games when it's cold and the weather warms up as the season goes on."
Three of the opponents Liberty will challenge next week likely will be better acclimated to the colder temperatures.
"We'll be coming into an environment they're probably a little more comfortable with," McQuillan said. "Grand Valley has a domed stadium, so there's the potential to play at least one game in Michigan indoors."
He expects to get the rest of the games in, "unless some crazy type of storm hits," like the one that turned Thursday's scheduled "Blackout" into a "Whiteout."