Flames designate four captains for upcoming spring season
December 3, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
As a semester of preparation for its transition to MCLA Division I draws to a close, Liberty University's men's lacrosse team has designated its four captains for the fast-approaching 2014 season.
Liberty will compete in the North West Region of the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference, replacing the University of Richmond, now an NCAA Division I program. After capturing its first SELC Division II Tournament championship last year, the Flames will seek to repeat those feats against new rivals and defending SELC DI North West Region champion Virginia Tech as well as Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and George Washington, a team it defeated 11-8 in a fall exhibition rematch of last season's 17-5 triumph in Washington, D.C.
Fourth-year Head Coach Kyle McQuillan is confident the Flames will make a successful jump from Division II, where they wound up ranked No. 3 in the final MCLA poll after reaching last spring's MCLA Tournament semifinals.
A large reason for his optimism is the leadership provided by newly appointed captains Mike Zumpano, Kurt Tobias, Ethan Kamholtz, and Brandt Grauss.
Here's a glance at the players expected to ignite the Flames' transition game and attack as well as provide defensive protection around the cage as Liberty seeks to continue its rapid rise up the collegiate ranks.
No. 17 Mike Zumpano — A long-stick midfielder from Clinton, Conn., Zumpano is a fourth-year player and first-year graduate student at Liberty.
"He is the only player to serve as a captain all four years since the program's inception in 2010, and has acted as the team president during that time as well," McQuillan said. "Mike is also the only player in program history to be named an SELC All-Conference player every season he has played. He has been a huge part of Liberty's success and has seen the program grow immensely in the past four years, largely due to his leadership both on and off the field."
No. 24 Kurt Tobias — A senior attackman from Fairfax, Va., Tobias also has played a part in the Flames' program since it was reinstated in 2010. This will be his second year as team captain after earning MCLA DII third-team All-American status as a junior last spring.
"He has played a very important role in each of our seasons and has been the most consistent offensive player the program has ever seen," McQuillan said of Tobias, the Flames' all-time top goal-scorer with 125. "Last year, he ranked fifth in the country in points with a total of 92 (64 goals, 28 assists) and was also named the (MCLA DII) Player of the Month in April."
No. 23 Ethan Kamholtz — A junior goalie from Penn Yan, N.Y., Kamholtz was a huge addition to the Flames last season, when he led SELC DII goalies in both ground balls (64) and saves (280) and had a 0.657 save percentage. He also was named an MCLA DII second-team All-American.
"Ethan has proven himself to be a leader in both his play on the field and his work ethic during practice and off-field activities," McQuillan said. "I expect him to be a big part of our success this season as we transition to Division I of the MCLA."
No. 19 Brandt Grauss — A sophomore long-stick defenseman from Alpharetta, Ga., Grauss is the youngest captain on the team.
"Although his on-field play leads him to be one of our best defensive players, it is primarily his off-field leadership that has earned him this position," McQuillan said, noting he missed most of the postseason last year with an injury. "We are looking forward to having him back at full strength."
The Flames will open their 2014 season Feb. 21 against SELC DI North East Region foe Wake Forest University, starting at 7 p.m. at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields.