Flames win two out of three, reach final 12 at NCPA nationals
April 11, 2014 | Lakeland, Fla.
Liberty University's Class A paintball team got out to a slow start in the opening round of pool play against East Carolina University in the National Collegiate Paintball Association Championships in Lakeland, Fla.
The Flames trailed the Pirates, a team they had defeated soundly in a scrimmage last weekend, 5-1 at halftime before turning matters completely around in the second half of a 12-5 triumph.
"It was a scary game," Liberty Head Coach Todd Hoglund said, "especially against a team that we had scrimmaged the week before and knew we could beat. It was a matter of putting the pieces together."
The change of sides at halftime triggered the turnaround on a field that features a mirrored bunkered layout, so when players are on the right side, the snakeside is on the left and when they're on the left side, the snakeside's on the right.
"Some of our players are right-handed and more dominant when we play on one side as opposed to the other. They're more comfortable running with their guns in their right arms," Hoglund said.
Besides the change of sides, the Flames made some tactical adjustment as well.
Following a first half in which Liberty was plagued by penalties, the calls started going against ECU in the second half.
"We were able to capitalize on the penalty points and turned it around," Hoglund said, after the Flames scored 11 unanswered points in the second half.
Liberty split its last two matches in the round-robin first-day format — losing to Florida Atlantic University, 8-4, before holding off Fresno State University, 8-6— to qualify as one of 12 teams out of the 15-team pool for Saturday's single-elimination championship playoffs.
Hogland said seniors Nate Hawkins and Aaron Westafer stood out for the Flames in their wins.
"They played really well making some big moves in the snake and consistently getting their shots," Hoglund said. "One player who did well on the D side was Kyeniel Tippett, who was making smart, methodical moves and getting some key shots."
Liberty will play Saturday morning and, if it wins, again on Saturday afternoon. If it wins both matches, it will be in Sunday's semifinals with the championship match to be played Sunday afternoon.
"We just have some work to do," Hoglund said. "It's going to be a hard road ahead, but we still have a chance to win the whole thing."
All of this weekend's Class A competition will be webcast live.
Liberty's three Class AA teams — Red, Blue, and White — start play on Saturday.