Flames founding members of Atlantic Lacrosse Conference
June 1, 2020 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University's men's lacrosse team, which has been affiliated with the SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) since the program was reinstated in 2010, will compete as one of eight founding members the Atlantic Lacrosse Conference (ALC) starting in the 2020-21 school year.
The ALC will be the ninth conference affiliated with the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), the most prestigious collegiate lacrosse league in the United States aside from the NCAA.
|Flames Head Coach Kyle McQuillan addresses his team during a break in the action in a March 7, 2020, home game against Clemson. (Photos by Chase Gyles)|
The Flames will join the ALC's North Division that includes state rival Virginia Tech and fellow SELC Northwest Region members George Washington and West Virginia. Clemson, Tennessee, East Carolina, and North Carolina State will represent the South Division.
"Virginia Tech is going to continue to be one of our biggest rivals, and we always look forward to that game, whatever the prize," Liberty Head Coach Kyle McQuillan said, noting those were the only two Virginia Division I programs in the SELC. "We found a pretty good balance, with Clemson in the South and Virginia Tech and Liberty in the North. There are a handful of Top-5 to Top-15 teams with other programs in the Top 25 or on the cusp of breaking into it."
McQuillan will act as president of the ALC after previously serving as the SELC's Division I director. He said the move, which was approved by the MCLA over the weekend, will be beneficial for all programs involved, both competitively and geographically, noting that it will decrease travel costs and other expenses.
"It's exciting, it's new, and there are definitely going to be a lot of challenges with it, but people think it's the best thing for everyone," McQuillan said. "It's what's best for Liberty, for the eight teams in the membership, and for the MCLA as a whole. It can be seen as a positive for the SELC as well."
The conference will be made up completely of Division I teams and could expand to include more as well as Division II programs as early as the 2021-22 season.
"The support for this has been growing for a long time, and after talking to a lot of people, we came to the conclusion that this was the time to move forward and we were able to accomplish that," McQuillan said. "We thought it best to get the conference approved and off the ground and created and then start working toward expanding conference membership."
The SELC had rapidly grown to become the largest of eight conferences in the MCLA with 19 Division I programs all vying for one autobid to the MCLA National Championships.
"The size of the SELC has been a strength, but also a struggle," McQuillan said. "Programs year-in and year-out weren't making the conference playoffs and now will have more opportunity in this new alignment."
Three of the four programs in each division will qualify for the ALC postseason, with the champion of that event receiving an autobid to the MCLA national tournament. Board members will hold the first ALC meeting this fall, with team representatives discussing scheduling and tournament guidelines.
The Flames, who moved up from Division II to Division I in 2014, narrowly missed MCLA tournament qualification in their first four seasons at that level before earning berths based on their top-10 national ranking the past two seasons.
They were a near lock to qualify for this season's tournament, to be held in Salt Lake City for the third consecutive season, before the second half of the regular season and entire postseason were canceled due to restrictions prompted by COVID-19.
Liberty's 2020-21 schedule is nearly finalized, but McQuillan is waiting for the fall semester to release it as colleges and universities have still yet to announce how the academic calendar could be affected.