Flames draw one recruit from far North, one from deep South
May 23, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Having one of the best field complexes in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association has bolstered Liberty University's men's lacrosse team's recruiting efforts over the past two seasons.
This spring, the success the Flames experienced in their final season competing at the MCLA Division II level has piqued the interest of many more potential players.
Liberty, which will replace Richmond at Division I in the North West Region of the Southeast Lacrosse Conference starting this fall, recently received commitments from two talented student athletes who should help ease the Flames' transition to the next tier.
|Nate Whyte (right), originally from Alberta, Canada, was named South Carolina's public high school defensman of the year as a senior at Nation Ford.|
Nathaniel Whyte, a native of Canada who was named the South Carolina defenseman of the year at Nation Ford High School in Fort Mill, S.C., and Chad "C.J." Moore, a midfielder who is transferring from NCAA Division I Mercer University (Ga.), will provide depth at those two positions next season.
"Nate is definitely a good player who had some options in terms of being able to play at other schools," Liberty head coach Kyle McQuillan said, including Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, close to Moore's hometown in Alberta, Canada, which was ranked No. 18 in the final MCLA Division I poll. "He's trying to put his faith first and the fact that we're moving to Division I this year was important to him."
Canada is not as much a hotbed for lacrosse as it is for ice hockey, but McQuillan, who played football growing up in Canada and lacrosse at Liberty, is excited to bring in a player from north of the border.
"In Canada, there's a lot of kids that play lacrosse," McQuillan said. "What a lot of kids will do is play hockey in the winter and then, when they unfreeze the rinks, they play box lacrosse. It's a good off-season sport.
Moore, meanwhile, is from the opposite extreme in latitude, born in Naples, Fla.
"Chad is a little bit older," McQuillan said of Moore, who will turn 20 this summer. "Any time you can get a kid who has played at a high level, somebody who has not only lacrosse experience but also life experience, similar to (graduate student and attack) Joe (Gargiulo), that's always good. He's definitely got some skills we can use."
Moore served as a faceoff specialist at Mercer, but likely will shift to midfield for the Flames, who graduated long stick midfielder Michael Zumpano and fellow middies Michael Strappelli and Asa Keimig. As a senior at Gulf Coast High School, he scored 55 goals, distributed 18 assists and picked up 94 ground balls.
Moore, who served as president of that school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes and has taken mission trips to Guatemala, Haiti, India and Mexico, listed his reason for choosing Liberty as the "opportunity to contribute to a team that is building a tradition of winning based on Christian principles." ?
McQuillan said that is exactly the type of player he is seeking to add to the program as it grows and continues to flourish since its revival in 2010.
"What I've been impressed with is the quality of character we've been able to bring to Liberty," he said, noting his current and prospective players are educationally minded as well as spiritually gifted Christian athletes.
The influx of players with strong lacrosse backgrounds will only elevate the program.
"It's good to have a competitive environment as we finalize our roster," said McQuillan, who plans to keep 30 players this fall, four more than this spring, following the Sept. 10-12 tryouts. "Every year, we've gotten twice as good as the year before. Moving up a division, you need to reload and have some depth. This is just the tip of the iceberg. We're hoping to have a whole lot more kids commit and show up next year."
The Flames (18-2) won the SELC Division II tournament for the first time and advanced to the MCLA Division II Final Four. Their only losses were to Richmond, which is moving up to the NCAA Division I level, and St. Thomas, winner of four of the past five MCLA DII tournament titles. Starting this fall, Liberty will be competing against reigning SELC Division I North West Region champion Virginia Tech, George Washington, a team it beat this past season, Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia.