Flames finalize spring schedule; conclude fall ball Friday against Virginia Tech at Liberty Lacrosse Fields
Scrimmages at NCAA Division III Hampden-Sydney and against NCAA DII Queens (N.C.) University on Oct. 16 in Farmville, Va., prepared Liberty University’s men’s lacrosse team for this Friday night’s fall season finale against Atlantic Lacrosse Conference (ALC) rival Virginia Tech, set for 7 p.m. at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields.
“They were a good wakeup call for us,” Flames Head Coach Kyle McQuillan said. “I love the idea of competing against NCAA programs and playing two games back-to-back was a tough test, a great challenge that set the bar pretty high with regards to competition.”
While McQuillan and his coaching staff and players are focusing on Friday’s matchup with the Hokies, to be played in front of a College For A Weekend (CFAW) crowd and in front of a few prospective recruits, they have their long-range sights set on an impressive spring schedule that includes a preseason home rematch with Roanoke College on Feb. 5.
The Flames will then kick off a 14-game 2022 regular season by hosting SouthEastern Lacrosse Conference (SELC) power South Carolina, the 2019 MCLA National Champions, on Feb. 19.
“We don’t really have a rolling start into our season,” McQuillan said “We hit the ground running and have a pretty strong test right out of the gate in South Carolina, which is still the defending national champion. Playing a strong opponent like that will get us a pretty good understanding of who we are and what we are capable of.”
The Flames will then host ALC newcomer Pittsburgh on Feb. 26 and West Virginia on Feb. 27, the second and third of nine home games on tap.
“This will definitely be one of our more challenging schedules, but the bonus is the number of teams we’re able to play at home,” McQuillan said. “Hopefully, we will be able to create some momentum and start the season with some success.”
Other highlights on the schedule include a March 11 home matchup with Clemson in a rematch of the inaugural ALC championship game won by Liberty; a Spring Break road trip to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia to face George Washington on March 16 and ALC newcomer Temple on March 18; an April 8 Midnight Mayhem matchup with four-time MCLA champion BYU, which doused the Flames in the MCLA Invitational opener in Round Hill, Texas; and a regular-season finale at Virginia Tech on April 15.
“We’ve got some strong rivalries close to home, including South Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and building some rivalries that extend across the country is a good thing, such as BYU, which ended our season last year and went on to win the MCLA Invitational,” McQuillan said. “They’ve bene a very strong program in the NCWA for many years and with the game last year and the rivalry that exists with both of us being religious institutions, that is a team we were very determined to try to get back on our schedule, and to get them here in Lynchburg.”
He is also excited about the opportunity to play a few teams for the first time this spring, starting with Indiana on March 13 at home, Temple, Alabama on March 25 at home, and ALC newcomer James Madison University on April 3 in Harrisonburg, Va.
“The fact that we’ve got so many new teams is going to be a new challenge for us and I am happy with how our schedule came together very favorably,” McQuillan said. “That we were able to get nine home games this season is a great change of pace, and the teams we travel to are all relatively close.”
Pitt, Temple, and JMU are all in the North Region of the 11-team ALC along with Liberty, WVU, and GW the others. The top three teams in the North and South regions will make the six-team ALC tournament, set for April 30-May 1 at Lynchburg’s City Stadium, with an autobid to the May 9-14 MCLA National Championships in Texas offered to the winner.
By Ted Allen/Staff Writer