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Flames Sports Report: Liberty's Fall Freshman 15
The following article first appeared in the Sept. 17 issue of Flames Illustrated, the official game program for the Liberty-James Madison football game. The text has been updated to reflect accomplishments which have taken place since the original article deadline, but the 15 individuals have not changed.
Note: Since this article appears on a page dedicated to Liberty's Olympic sports, the Flames' freshman football players were not considered for inclusion in the "Freshman 15."
College freshmen who aren't physically active and spend too much time in the cafeteria run the risk of gaining the dreaded "freshman 15." However, the following 15 Liberty freshman student-athletes (listed alphabetically) don't need to worry about that. They are each already playing key roles for their respective teams this fall, during their first few weeks on Liberty Mountain.
Abby Batdorf (Field Hockey) – Batdorf's first career goal came in the closing minutes against Christopher Newport on Sept. 11 and provided the winning margin in Liberty's 2-1 victory. She currently ranks second on the team in both goals (2) and points (5).
Maddie Boone (Women's Soccer) – Boone, a highly-decorated high school performer from Kentucky, earned the start at midfield in her college debut against No. 6 Virginia.
Stephanie Buda (Women's Cross Country) – Buda finished 10th overall in her first collegiate race, the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational on Sept. 2.
Jacy Christiansen (Women's Cross Country) – Christiansen made a most impressive collegiate debut Sept. 2 at the Virginia Tech Alumni Invitational. The native of New Hampshire was the first Lady Flame to cross the finish line, taking fourth place overall.
Morgan DeMann (Field Hockey) – DeMann, of Marathon, N.Y., has helped Liberty limit opponents to just 1.5 goals per contest this season, starting all six matches at defender.
Helen Doolittle (Field Hockey) – Doolittle's name will forever be etched in Liberty's field hockey record book, after the Keystone State native scored the first goal in program history, Sept. 3 against Radford. The defender then added a pair of goals in the Lady Flames' first-ever win, a 3-0 blanking of Marywood on Sept. 10. Doolittle paces the team with four goals in the season's first six contests.
Alanna Dunkle (Women's Soccer) – Dunkle quickly displayed her offensive prowess by netting two goals in Liberty's exhibition matchup with Davidson on Aug. 16. She was also one of two Lady Flames freshmen to start the season opener against No. 6 Virginia.
Ansley Gebben (Volleyball) – Gebben has performed admirably as a starting outside hitter this season. She notched a team-high nine kills in Liberty's 3-0 sweep of CSU Bakersfield in the Sept. 10 championship match of the Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi. For the season, the Sunshine State native ranks third on the team with 81 kills.
Ngetich Kipchirchir (Men's Cross Country) – A promising newcomer from Eldoret, Kenya, Kipchirchir figures to be one of the top runners for the new-look Liberty men's cross country team this fall.
Meredith Mistretta (Women's Cross Country) – Mistretta made her Lady Flames debut on Saturday at the Coastal Carolina Invitational/Big South Preview, serving as Liberty's No. 6 runner. She finished 41st overall for the fifth-place Lady Flames.
Josh Pacella (Men's Soccer) – After winning a spirited preseason battle for the starting goalkeeper spot, Pacella has excelled in the Liberty net. The Pennsylvania native has recorded back-to-back shutouts against No. 10 Virginia and Howard and currently boasts a 0.58 goals-against average.
Melissa Racz (Volleyball) – Racz has served as Liberty's primary right-side hitter this season. She opened her career with a six-block performance against Georgia and later recorded six kills against North Carolina. Racz sits No. 3 among the Lady Flames with 26 blocks this season.
Gabrielle Shipe (Volleyball) – Shipe has been a key member of the Lady Flames' back line and came up with 13 digs versus Seton Hall on Sept. 2. Her 68 digs rank third on the Lady Flames this year.
Rebecca Smith (Women's Soccer) – A regular face on Liberty's midfield, Smith made her first career start Aug. 29 against Longwood.
Geena Swentik (Women's Soccer) – One of four Liberty freshmen to start in Liberty's 1-1 tie with Longwood on Aug. 29, Swentik notched a shot on goal against the Lancers.
Paul Carmany is an assistant athletics communications director for Liberty Athletics.