Men’s Lacrosse Claims Inaugural Conference Championship Title
The Liberty Flames lacrosse team secured its first Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division I conference championship with a 17-8 victory over the Clemson Tigers Sunday afternoon in the first-ever ALC conference championship. The win gives the Flames a berth into the MCLA National Championships.
Liberty defeated NC State in the semifinals 14-8 to reach the title game. The Flames had previously lost to the Tigers 10-13 in Spartanburg.
Liberty was quick to get on the board with a goal from Caleb Britton to put the Flames up 1-0. Clemson immediately fired back with a goal from Jacob Magelssen, but the Flames continued to rack up goals in the first quarter, with scores from midfielders Carter Elliot and Keaton Mohs. The Flames finished the first quarter with a 5-2 lead.
In the second quarter, Liberty kept its foot on the gas, scoring three goals while allowing none. Elliot came in on a fast break to start the scoring. After a Liberty timeout with 0:05 in the half, Elliot finished the quarter with a charge through to score with 0.6 seconds on the clock.
Elliot spoke after the game about the goal.
“That actually was not the plan,” Elliot said. “We were trying to get a dodge and get a guy open on the backside, but nobody slid (in behind to receive a pass) so that is just what opened up.”
Liberty continued its dominance in the third due to goalie Ryan Reynolds. He allowed zero goals in the quarter to give Liberty a 12-2 lead going into the fourth. Reynolds was awarded Defensive MVP honors for the tournament due to his strong defensive performance.
Reynolds expressed jubilation after the game, emphasizing the Flames’ victory as a team performance.
“Whatever I can do for this team I am going to do it,” Reynolds said. “That is not a title just for me, that is for my whole team. I could not have done anything out there without them. If I have to make saves, I am going to make those saves.”
Head Coach Kyle McQuillan spoke about Reynold’s skills in the net.
“It has become pretty routine for us,” McQullian said of Reynolds. “I feel like we rely so heavily on him and he has come through in so many games and we expect that. He was over 60% in saves. He is the heart and soul of our team. He is the team captain, and he is a big reason why we are here today.”
The Tigers were finally able to break down Liberty’s defense again with 10:32 to go in the contest. They ended up scoring six in the quarter, but the Flames held on to win the championship 17-8.
McQuillan expressed his relief to beat a talented Tigers team.
“That was a team that beat us earlier this year,” McQuillan said. “A win is a win, but the way that we did it and the fashion that we did it in is what makes it feel so good.”
Caleb Britton, Jackson Miller, Carter Elliot, Keaton Mohs, Cameron Carter, Reagan Pritchett, Mitchell Gorski, Cole Janokowski and goalie Ryan Reynolds were named to the All-Tournament team.
The Flames will take their success to Texas next week for the MCLA National Championships. McQuillan spoke about the energy the Flames will carry into the tournament.
“Winning our first conference championship in MCLA is a huge confidence boost,” McQuillan said. “Winning the first ever ALC Championship is huge. With everything being different this year, this one feels huge.”
Zac Zehnder is a Sports Reporter. Follow him on Twitter at @zaczehnder.