In just their third year of existence, the Liberty Flames men’s lacrosse team participated in the Division II SELC Playoffs, losing to Elon in the semifinals.
The Flames, who participated in the SELC Division II North West Conference, finished with a record of 7-3 before heading into the playoffs.
Head coach Kyle McQuillan was named SELC Division II coach of the year, while Will Perkins and Kurt Tobias were named to the all-conference team.
“Being named coach of the year is a testament to how far the team has come and how hard the players have worked,” McQuillan said. “Our program has worked hard over the past year, and guys like Will (Perkins) and Kurt (Tobias) are main examples of where our program is headed.”
The 7-3 record was a vast improvement from last year for the program, when spent quite a bit of time trying to find their identity as a team.
“Our improvement was gradual,” McQuillan said. “We worked better as a team, and we were playing our best ball during our showing in the SELC tournament. We feel like we were able to put Liberty lacrosse on the map.”
In the first round of the tournament, the Flames faced Coastal Carolina. The regular season matchup with the Chanticleers was canceled due to inclement weather.
The Flames got behind 5-1 in the first quarter. It didn’t look good for McQuillan’s team, but they were ready to put up a fight.
“When we were down, it was the best time for us to stand back and look at the situation,” McQuillan said. “There is a lot to be said of a team that can come from behind and knock off the No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina. It says a lot about our program.”
In the tournament semifinals, the Flames faced Elon University. In a regular season matchup with the Phoenix, Liberty lost 12-11 in a hard-fought game.
The tournament matchup was like the regular season one in many ways. It was hard-fought by the Flames even though they were coming off of a difficult game against Coastal. In the end, Elon came away with a 13-12 win.
“Elon has been a team that’s beat us for the past five to six years,” McQuillan said. “It was tough to face them coming off of a game where we had to battle back from being down.”
Despite the disheartening loss, McQuillan remained encouraged about his team’s progress.
“This was our first year of eligibility for the tournament and our second year as a program, so accomplishing this is great for us, but we still have some steps to take,” McQuillan said.