Flames' A team eliminated by FAU; two AA squads still alive
April 12, 2014 | Lakeland, Fla.
As the sixth seed entering Saturday's 12-team, single-elimination playoffs at the National Collegiate Paintball Association Championships in Lakeland, Fla., Liberty University's Class A team drew seventh-seeded Florida Atlantic University, which had dealt the Flames their only defeat in Friday's preliminary action.
Liberty played FAU more competitively than it did the first time, in an 8-4 setback, but still lost a 7-5 decision and was eliminated by the Owls, settling for 11th place.
"Florida Atlantic is a great team," Liberty Head Coach Todd Hoglund said. "We adjusted our game plan based on what we saw (Friday), but just weren't able to make everything connect."
The teams were tied at 3-3 at the half and 4-4 before FAU scored the next two points and Liberty got one back with 2:22 left in regulation.
"We were close to tying it, trying to make a move to tie it up, but we just couldn't pull it out," Hoglund said. "We knew what we had to do to beat them, but ran out of time."
Flames junior captain Aaron Thompson played well throughout the game, but his final attack backfired and the Owls' Travis Madrid scored the last point with one second to go.
Hoglund rotated in some reserve players but struggled to keep his starters hydrated with temperatures in the mid-80-degree range in central Florida.
"We tried to stick to our starting five," he said. "They were getting the job done, even though it was inconsistent at times. We focused on our top players to grind it out."
Florida Atlantic went on to beat Kennesaw State to advance to Sunday's semifinals that will also include the Connecticut, Central Florida, and Temple.
In the 50-team Class AA tournament, which started Saturday, Liberty's Red line finished 4-0 in its five-team pool while the Flames' Blue line went 3-1.
Both advanced to Sunday's 24-team finals.
The Red Line will receive an opening-round bye as the No. 3 seed after only losing one point in the Race-to-2 format used in pool play. It beat Radford 2-1 and shut out Texas Tech, James Madison University, and Rochester Institute of Technology.
"As a team, they were all playing amazingly well," Hoglund said of Dorito side junior Neal Clement, snakeside freshman David Dickerson, front D side junior Dan Chiaverini, snakeside sophomore Brendan Liakos, and senior John Lewers. "They played very aggressively and were just hitting their shots. They've been together for a couple tournaments and work really well together. They dominated their bracket."
The Blue line received excellent play from freshman Ryan Esquirrell on the snakeside and got a critical attack from freshman Micah McLeod in beating Florida 2-1, Texas A&M 2-1, and Hartford (Conn.) 2-1, losing only to N.C. State 2-1. It will open Sunday's action as the 12th seed at 9 a.m. against Texas Tech.
"The crème is rising to the top," Hoglund said. "They're going to be really difficult games from here on out. You've got to beat the best to be the best."
Liberty's White line, meanwhile went 0-4, losing to Virginia Tech 2-1, Alabama 1-1 (tie-breaker), Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2-1, and Texas A&M Maroon 2-1.
"They finished 43rd out of 50 teams," Hoglund said. "It was a good learning experience and they got solid play from Kayne Boyer."
The tournament is being webcast live throughout the weekend.