Liberty caps four-game spring break road swing with sweep
March 16, 2013 | Upland, Ind.
A day after battling its second ranked opponent in 24 hours, Liberty University's men's lacrosse team ended its spring break tour through Michigan and Indiana with a comparatively easy 15-2 victory over Taylor University, Saturday afternoon in Upland, Ind.
"We were able to kind of slow things down and get some of our starting guys some much-needed rest," Flames head coach Kyle McQuillan said. "We used our entire bench and got some of our second and third guys in there. Against Grand Valley State and Indiana Tech, we were running our ones and twos quite a bit. Today, we had a more balanced lineup. It was a good way to go out, after playing two ranked teams, to kind of end on a lighter note."
Junior attack Kurt Tobias finished with a game-high four goals, sophomore attack Chris Armstrong also netted a hat trick with three goals, freshman attack Ryan Miller contributed two goals and two assists and six other players added one goal — freshman middie Bryce Mrakovich, who also distributed three assists, senior attack Joe Gargiulo and junior middie Derek Haywood, who also tallied two assists, Mike Strappelli, who assisted one goal, Miguel Lozada, and Holden Shelton.
"We added some new names to the goal category and worked in some of our depth," McQuillan said.
Sophomore goalie Ethan Kamholtz made 11 saves and gave up Taylor's only two goals before being relieved with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter by Asa Keimig, who iced the decisive win with six saves.
"We were chasing that elusive shutout, but it was still a very good defensive effort," McQuillan said. "To be able to finish in such a dominant fashion, in our fourth game in a row, was great to see."
He said the Flames, who improved to 8-0, made a legitimate case for being ranked in the top 10 of MCLA Division II, after starting the season at No. 19 and rising to No. 14 two weeks ago.
"It was a good win for us, but overall, as a body of work, being 4-0 on this spring break road trip was huge for us," McQuillan said. "Our expectation at the beginning of the year was to get to be a top-10 team and we've done all that we can. We were able to play some teams out of our conference, all from the CCLA (Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association), and make a name for ourselves on a national level."
Facing Taylor (2-1), which had yet to play a ranked opponent, Liberty was the clear favorite.
"A lot of teams in the CCLA don't get to start their seasons off as early as we do," McQuillan said. "We had four games under our belt and that played to our advantage."
He said the Flames appreciated the sportsmanship shown by the Trojans.
"They're a smaller Christian university up in Indiana and it was good to see how they represented themselves and their faith," McQuillan said. "We were able to all get together and pray after the game, which was awesome. It was nice to come together and play another team with the same values as we have."
Though the weather was not quite spring-like, the Flames made the best of the conditions before returning home by bus Saturday afternoon.
"It was a foggy, murky afternoon, the field was wet, and it was a cold, wet day," McQuillan said. "Most teams travel south and get to enjoy the weather. This week, the weather wasn't on our side, but we were able to persevere. Overall, we had a little rain, but it could have been a lot worse."
With just more than a month remaining in the regular season, Liberty prepares to open play in the North West region of the Southeast Lacrosse Conference (SELC) next Saturday at home against Davidson.
"We're still looking forward to playing Elon University and Richmond as well," McQuillan said. "Davidson is not only an SELC game, but a regional game, which are the games we need to win to make the playoffs. If you win the division, you automatically get a bid. We've proven we can win on the road. I hope we can have as much success at home."