No. 3 Flames put 13-0 mark on line Saturday at No. 11 Hokies
April 18, 2019 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's lacrosse team, ranked third for the fourth consecutive week in the MCLA Division I Coaches Poll, will wrap up its regular season with Saturday's 7:30 p.m. showdown at 11th-ranked SELC Northwest Region rival Virginia Tech.
For the sixth consecutive year, the regular-season-ending clash will determine the region's top seed going into the eight-team SELC Tournament set for April 25-28 near Atlanta.
The Flames (13-0) won the fall season-ending scrimmage against the Hokies (10-4), 11-9 on Nov. 9 at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields. In the spring matchups with Liberty, Virginia Tech holds a 3-2 edge, winning 15-7 in 2015, 14-13 in triple overtime in 2017, and 11-6 in 2018. Liberty prevailed 10-8 in 2014 and 15-7 in 2016.
The Flames' offense is paced by senior midfielder C.J. Nichols (35 goals, 25 assists), senior attack Sam Gregory (31G, 27A), junior attack Caleb Britton (35G, 4A), and senior midfielder Chase Wright (20G, 17A). Freshmen faceoff specialists Cole Jankowsky and Shane Reynolds have combined to win 173 faceoffs, and sophomore midfielder Austin Aguilar has won another 20. In goal, senior Brayden Harriman (100 saves, 79 goals against) has platooned with junior Ryan Reynolds (28 saves, 16 goals against).
Virginia Tech counters with senior attacks Noah Dewey (39G, 9A) and Sullivan Warner (16G, 30A) as well as sophomore attack Hunter Capestany (30G, 13A). Sophomore faceoff specialists Matt White and Trevor Kirsch have combined to win 174 draws. Sophomore goalie Hunter LeClaire has made 128 saves and allowed 80 goals in nine games.
Liberty, which earned an at-large bid to its first MCLA DI National Championships last season in Salt Lake City, can clinch a return trip to nationals by winning the SELC Tournament for the first time since 2013, when it played at the Division II level. Besides the defending champion Hokies, two of the Flames' biggest obstacles to an SELC DI tournament crown will be second-ranked Georgia Tech (14-0) — one of two other undefeated teams in the MCLA along with top-ranked California (12-0) — and No. 6 South Carolina.
The Gamecocks lost to Virginia Tech in last year's SELC final before defeating Georgia Tech and California in the first two rounds at nationals. Liberty overcame two losses to the Gamecocks in 2018 with a dramatic 12-11 home triumph on March 30.