The 2016 Liberty field hockey team was picked to finish second in the BIG EAST Conference.
The BIG EAST Conference released its 2016 preseason field hockey poll earlier today with Liberty predicted to finish in second place. Additionally, senior sisters Serena and Bethany Barr both received recognition on the preseason All-BIG EAST team, while Serena Barr garnered Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year distinction. Head coach Jodi Murphy and her squad are entering their inaugural season as an affiliate member in the BIG EAST Conference.
The Lady Flames received one first-place vote and 40 points in the preseason coaches' poll, behind only UConn, who had seven first-place votes and 49 points. Old Dominion was picked third (39 points), followed by Temple (30 points), Providence (25 points), Villanova (19 points), Quinnipiac (13 points) and Georgetown (nine points).
"It is such an honor for this team to be competing in the BIG EAST Conference. We are excited about this new opportunity and humbled by these conference recognitions," said head coach Jodi Murphy.
Serena Barr was unanimously voted to the All-BIG EAST team while sharing a preseason co-defensive player of the year with UConn's Anna Middendorf. Barr enters her senior campaign as one of the most successful players in program history, ranking first in career assists (27), fourth in goals (21), fourth in points (69), third in shots (158) and fifth in game-winning goals (6).
Her junior season was filled with accolades, as she was named to the NFHCA South All-Region second team and VaSID All-State second team. Barr was also named a NFHCA Scholar of Distinction and to the NFHCA National Academic Squad. The Lurgan, Northern Ireland native finished 2015 ranked 36th in the nation in assists per game (0.50), helping the Lady Flames finish the season with a 12-6 record as an independent and No. 14 ranking in the final NFHCA Division I Coaches Poll.
Bethany Barr, a midfielder, was voted to the preseason All-BIG EAST team. Much like her sister, she enters her senior season as one of the most accomplished players in program history, ranking tied for fifth in career goals (20), third in assists (23), fifth in points (63) and sixth in shots (125). As a junior, Barr matched her sister with NFHCA South All-Region second team and VaSID All-State second team honors. She also earned a spot on the NFHCA National Academic Squad for a third straight year.
The Lady Flames open regular season play on Aug. 26 at James Madison and play their first BIG EAST contest at Villanova on Sept. 16. Liberty will play seven regular season conferences matches before the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship from Nov. 4-6, hosted by Temple in Philadelphia, Pa.
Liberty and Quinnipiac were added to the conference as affiliate members on Dec. 8, 2015, to make the BIG EAST an eight-team league.
BIG EAST Preseason Poll and Awards
Preseason All-BIG EAST Team Bethany Barr, Liberty, Sr., M Serena Barr, Liberty, Sr., B* Fresca Bello, Villanova, Jr., F Meg Byas, Old Dominion, Sr., B* Aliyah Graves-Brown, Georgetown, Sr., F Adrienne Houle, Providence, Sr., F/M* Angie King, Quinnipiac, Sr., B Nina Klein, Connecticut, R-Jr., GK Anna Middendorf, Connecticut, Sr., M* Casey Umstead, Connecticut, Jr., F/M Charlotte Veitner, Connecticut, Jr., F*
Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Charlotte Veitner, Connecticut, Jr., F*
Preseason Co-Defensive Players of the Year Serena Barr, Liberty, Sr., B Anna Middendorf, Connecticut, Sr., M
Preseason Coaches' Poll 1. Connecticut – 49 points (7 first-place votes) 2. Liberty – 40 points (1 first-place vote) 3. Old Dominion – 39 points 4. Temple – 30 points 5. Providence – 25 points 6. Villanova – 19 points 7. Quinnipiac – 13 points 8. Georgetown – 9 points
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