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    February 27, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Playing its second Atlantic Lacrosse Conference (ALC) North Region opponent in two days, Liberty University’s men’s lacrosse team established an early lead in the regular-season standings with another eight-goal victory Sunday at the Liberty Lacrosse Fields, this time defeating West Virginia, 14-6.

    The Flames (3-0, 2-0 ALC North) outshot WVU by a 44-26 margin for the contest and opened a 5-1 lead after the first quarter, then built it to 8-2 by the half. They allowed the Mountaineers to win the third quarter, 3-2, before outscoring their guests 4-1 in the fourth.

    “It was beautiful weather for late February, with temperatures in the mid-50s and sunshine, so we were thankful for that,” Liberty Head Coach Kyle McQuillan said. “Overall, we played pretty well and controlled the pace of the game from start to finish. We came out early and were able to get a lead and protect it throughout the game, and there were a lot of positives in terms of our offensive possession and the adjustments we made from Saturday. The win does a lot to help put us out in front for that No. 1 seed in the ALC North.”

    Senior attack Cooper Branham passes in front of junior middie Cameron Carter.

    By beating ALC newcomer Pittsburgh on Saturday and WVU on Sunday, the Flames can clinch the first place in their region with wins at Temple, another new addition to the ALC, over Spring Break on March 18 in Philadelphia and JMU on April 3 in Harrisonburg, Va.

    “We had a ‘State of the Union’ address after the game and I told the guys I feel really good about the way we have started the season,” McQuillan said. “We recognize we still have a lot to develop and build off of, but we are really excited about the current place we are in.”

    Liberty got a hat trick and one assist from senior attack Thomas Pinel; two goals and three assists from freshman middie Will Geary; two goals and one assist from sophomore middie Keaton Mohs; two goals from senior attack Mark Rolewicz and junior middie Cameron Carter; one goal and two assists from senior attack Cooper Branham; one goal and one assist from junior middle Ryan O’Connor; and one goal from sophomore middie Ryan Merbach.

    Junior middie Ryan Merbach fends off a Mountaineers player.

    “We were able to execute our offensive game plan,” McQuillan said. “We had a lot working for us offensively, early on in transition, and then out of our settled six-on-six attack. Their goalie was pretty successful in fending off a lot of our attempts and made a lot of pretty critical saves or it would have been a more decisive win.”

    The Mountaineers (1-6) have played some quality opponents, including Clemson, which upset No. 3-ranked Georgia Tech this weekend, Grand Canyon, a perennial MCLA power, and Virginia Tech, 18-6 on Saturday in Blacksburg.

    The Flames will now gear up for their first road trip of the season, next Saturday at North Carolina State in Raleigh, before hosting Florida the following Monday at 7 p.m.

    “That will be another quick turnaround, then we will host another doubleheader the following weekend, with undefeated Clemson on Friday (March 11 at 7 p.m.) in a rematch of the ALC Championship game, and Indiana on Sunday (March 11 at 1 p.m.), so we’ve got a lot of big games coming up,” McQuillan said.

    The Flames remained at No. 4 in last week’s MCLA Division I national rankings, but could move up after both No. 2 California and No. 3 Georgia Tech suffered losses.

    “(No. 8) Clemson and (No. 7) Concordia, which beat those top programs, might move up in front of us,” McQuillan said. “We’re exactly where we need to be as long as we keep playing our game.”

    Senior attack Mark Rolewicz and Mohs check a WVU player from both sides.

    The Flames hope to heal up from some key injuries over the next two weeks, with graduate attack Carter Elliott sitting out both games this weekend with a lower-body injury, junior middie Remy Newton going down with a knee injury in Saturday’s game, and O’Connor sustaining an elbow injury on Sunday.

    “Carter dressed out, but we’ve got enough depth we were able to give him some rest,” McQuillan said. “We’re feeling the injury bug, but are hopeful that all of those guys will be able to return.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video by the Liberty Flames Sports Network (LFSN)