The Liberty field hockey team has announced the addition of seven student-athletes in its 2019 recruiting class.
The Lady Flames field hockey program has announced the addition of seven student-athletes in its 2019 recruiting class.
The seven players – Nicole Buckley, Reese Canaday, Bethany Dykema, Bridget Gallagher, Santia McLaughlin, Vivian Pope and Mackinzie Thompson – come to Liberty from three different states (North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia).
Nicole Buckley (F/M – Cary, N.C./Cary Christian School) Buckley, a forward/midfielder, joins the Lady Flames after an accomplished career at Cary Christian School (CCS) in Cary, N.C. Over her past three seasons there, she totaled 57 goals, 47 assists and 161 points. Buckley was an NCISAA all-state player as both a junior and senior and was selected for the North Carolina All-Star Game for three straight years. She also led her team in goals and assists in all four seasons she played at Cary.
Buckley also served as a team captain during her final two years, helping the Cary Knights to a combined 25-12 record and a pair of NCISAA state tournament quarterfinal appearances. Buckley's junior year Cary team put together the best season in CCS program history with a 15-5 mark.
"I am so excited to join a program led by passionate coaches," she stated. "I am looking forward to working with them, pushing myself to contribute to the success of the team and making memories with my teammates on and off the field."
Buckley competed at the club level for Carolina All Stars Field Hockey, based out of Chapel Hill, N.C. She was chosen as team captain for several tournaments and helped her team qualify for the U19 NIT. Buckley also considered attending North Carolina, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and Columbia before deciding to continue her field hockey career at Liberty.
"Nicole is an incredibly talented field hockey player! She maintains possession of the ball even when faced with tough defensive play due to her amazing ball handling skills. She is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end with her tackling skills. Her coachability and kind spirit will be a blessing to the Liberty field hockey program!" Darla McDonald, Cary Christian School Field Hockey Head Coach
"Nicole has been with the Carolina All Stars family for more than six years, starting with us when she was just 12. She has shown toughness, strength of character and leadership during her time, and we are thrilled she has achieved her goal of playing Division I field hockey. We look forward to following her career at Liberty University!" Grant Fulton, Carolina All Stars Field Hockey Head Coach
Reese Canaday (F/M – Oxford, Pa./Oxford Area HS) Canaday, a forward/midfielder, enjoyed a successful four-year playing career at Oxford Area High School in which she totaled 32 goals, 13 assists and 77 points. Over those four years, the Oxford Hornets won 31 games and played in the district tournament in each year.
As a senior, Canaday served as a team captain and was the team leader in goals (9) and assists (5) on the way to earning first team Ches-Mont American honors and being selected to the PhilaFH Senior All-Star team. She was also a second team Ches-Mont American recipient as a junior and sophomore.
"Upon visiting Liberty, the friendly atmosphere and energy were apparent. The coaches shared their vision and excitement for the future of the hockey team," Canaday said. "I felt the environment and academic opportunities were the best fit for me. I can't wait to continue my education and hockey career at Liberty!"
At the club level, the Pennsylvania native competed for Horizon Field Hockey from 2015-17 and currently plays for the WC Eagles Field Hockey Club. The 2018 WC Eagles were U19 NIT qualifiers, while her 2017 Horizon squad was a U16 NIT qualifier. Canaday also considered attending Hofstra, Saint Francis (Pa.), Northeastern and Belmont Abbey.
"It was a pleasure to coach Reese and watch her grow as a leader on the field. She is a versatile player with a strong shot in the circle. She creates plays for her teammates and is patient on defense. Her strength is not only on the field hockey field but with her academic and volunteer service with the youth field hockey program at Oxford. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for her." Karly Belford, Oxford Area High School Field Hockey Head Coach
Bethany Dykema (M/D – Newport News, Va./Homeschooled) Dykema, a midfielder/defender, will be joining Liberty field hockey from the Saints Hockey Rocks club out of Virginia Beach, Va. She is the younger sister of current Lady Flame, Ashley Dykema, who will be a junior when Bethany arrives in Lynchburg.
"Signing with Liberty field hockey has definitely been one of the best decisions I have ever made," she stated. "From its outstanding sports facilities to the endless student resources, Liberty University offers everything I will need to take on this next chapter in life. I am so honored to be a part of such an incredible program, and I cannot wait to see the things we accomplish in the 2019 season!"
Dykema has enjoyed sustained success with Saints Hockey Rocks throughout her prep career. Dykema and the Saints played at the National Club Championship from 2015-19, earning a silver medal (2015) and bronze medal (2016) along the way. Among her other accomplishments are: Futures program participant (2013-19), National Futures Championship selectee (2013-19), Junior Olympics participant (2014-17), U17 Junior National Team (2017-18), U17 Junior National Camp (2017), U19 Junior National Camp (2018) and US Junior National Indoor Team (2014-16).
Dykema says her most memorable field hockey moment to date was getting the opportunity to travel to Uruguay with the U17 Junior National Team to play in a min-series against the Uruguayan Junior National Team in 2018. She also considered attending Wake Forest, Virginia, Duke and Richmond.
"Bethany is one of the most determined players we have ever had. Her ability to play every position on the field extremely well will be an asset to the outstanding Liberty program." Scotty Tyson, Saints Hockey Rocks Field Hockey Head Coach
Bridget Gallagher (F – Spring City, Pa./Owen J. Roberts HS) Gallagher, a forward, enjoyed a successful career at Owen J. Roberts High School in Pottstown, Pa. A three-year varsity player, she scored 16 goals and added 11 assists as a senior for an Owen J. Roberts Wildcats squad which went 22-3, won a conference title, a district title, advanced to the first round of the PIAA AAA state tournament and finished the year with a No. 16 team ranking in the state of Pennsylvania. For her efforts, Gallagher was named Pennsylvania High School Field Hockey Coaches Association (PHSFHCA) honorable mention all-state. She also earned first team-all league selection and PHSFHCA Academic all-state recognition.
Gallagher's Wildcat teams posted a combined 32-15-1 record during her junior and sophomore campaigns. During her junior season, the team won a first round game at the state tournament for the first time in school history.
"I feel so blessed and excited to be able to continue to play the game I love at such a great school," Gallagher said. "I can't wait to be a part of the program where I will be challenged both athletically and academically, knowing my coaches and teammates will push me to be the best version of myself on and off the field."
Gallagher also plays at the club level for Philly Hockey Current and formerly played for X-Calibur (U12-U16). Her X-Calibur team won three championships in her time with them: NIT U16 Pool B (2017), National Hockey Festival (2017) and NIT U16 (2016). Gallagher also considered attending Providence, Lehigh and Holy Cross before deciding to attend Liberty.
"Bridget will absolutely be missed next season! She appears to be a quiet player, but when the ball is on her stick, she becomes a different kind of player – tenacious, determined and super-skilled. Bridget has some of the best and quickest stick skills in the area and was able to earn us many penalty corners because of them. She is a type of teammate that wanted the very best for everyone on the team. She would always give everything she had while on the field. Bridget has worked incredibly hard to improve her level of play, and I think attending and playing at Liberty will continue to provide her the opportunities to perform at the highest level. I am excited to see the impact she will make on their program." Amy Hoffman, Owen J. Roberts High School Field Hockey Head Coach
Santia McLaughlin (GK – Charlottesville, Va./St. Anne's-Belfield School) McLaughlin, a goalkeeper, had a strong career for St. Anne's-Belfield School as well as at the club level. At St. Anne's-Belfield, the netminder totaled 457 saves across her four-year career. She earned first team all-state honors as a senior in 2018 and second team all-state recognition as a junior (2017) and sophomore (2016). McLaughlin was also an All-League of Independent Schools (LIS) selection from her sophomore through senior years.
McLaughlin and the St. Anne's-Belfield Saints won the Division II state title when she was a sophomore, which she says is her most memorable moment on the pitch so far. Her team also reached the state tournament when she was a senior and qualified for the LIS tournament in each of the past four seasons. As a freshman, she was honored with the Newcomer of the Year award for a team which posted a 17-2-3 record.
"I wanted to be a part of something where I'm not only a part of a team, but a part of a family," she stated. "Through Christ, Liberty strives to build long-lasting familial bonds, and that's why I chose Liberty."
McLaughlin also competed at the club level for High Voltage Field Hockey Club, based out of Fredericksburg, Va. McLaughlin and High Voltage won their pool for U16 and U19 in 2017 and U19 in 2018. The team also qualified for the NIT tournament in 2017 and 2018. She also considered attending Virginia and Colgate before electing to join the Lady Flames.
"Santia was an integral player in the defensive end for St. Anne's with a strong presence in the net, solid knowledge of the backfield and a great ability to communicate and organize her teammates. She possesses sound technical skills, handling direct shots well and minimizing second shot opportunities. Santia is also quick and athletic in one-on-ones and a smart decision maker in outnumbering situations. She was a strong leader and great contributor to St. Anne's' success this year." Tara Harrington, St. Anne's-Belfield School Field Hockey Head Coach
Vivian Pope (M/D – Yorktown, Va./York HS) Pope, a midfielder/defender, enjoyed a successful high school career at York High School. Over her final two seasons with the Falcons, she recorded 14 goals and recorded 20 assists. As a senior, Pope scored nine goals and added 12 assists. As a senior, her York team defeated its rival in overtime.
For her efforts during her senior season this past fall, she received first team all-conference, first team all-region and second team all-state distinction. Pope also garnered first team all-conference and first team all-region distinction as a junior.
"I'm so excited that I found a school that fits me so well both academically and athletically," Pope stated.
Pope has played at the club level for Focus Field Hockey and Saints Field Hockey (current club). She has participated in Futures tournaments, regional club championships, the Disney Showcase, Indoor NIT and Shoot Star tournaments. Pope also considering attending Virginia, Wake Forest and Saint Joseph's before deciding to come to Liberty.
"Vivian is both an offensive and defensive threat on the field. She has excellent field vision, big ball transfers and a rocket shot when striking on offensive corners. We are looking forward to watching her grow at the next level." Danielle Warters, York High School Field Hockey Head Coach
Mackinzie Thompson (F/M – West Chester, Pa./West Chester East HS) Thompson, a forward/midfielder, had a highly-decorated career at West Chester East High School in which she scored 101 goals to go along with 98 assists and 300 points. In only 17 games as a senior, she had 25 goals, 20 assists, 70 points and scored her 100th career goal.
A two-year team captain, Thompson guided the West Chester East Vikings to playoff appearances all four years she played, which included a fifth place finish in the state tournament as a sophomore. She was a four-time Ches-Mont all-league honoree.
"I am so excited to be joining such a great program," she said. "I cannot wait to create new friendships on and off the field and to reach my full potential."
Thompson competed at the club level for WC Eagles, with team accomplishments including: 2018 U19 NIT champions, 2017 U16 RCC champions, 2017 U16 NCC training squad, 2017 U19 NIT Pool C runner-up and 2017 U16 NIT Pool C runner-up. She also considered attending William & Mary, Lafayette and Bucknell before choosing Liberty.
"Her vision is pretty incredible. Kinzie does really well at seeing the passing lanes and seeing the shooting lanes. She does a great job of spreading the ball. She's equally good distributing or going to goal, and she has a great shot." Taylor Shrok, West Chester East Field Hockey Head Coach (coached Thompson as sophomore and junior)
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