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    February 16, 2022 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s women’s ultimate team will bring a solid returning core of 17 players to this Saturday’s and Sunday’s 16-team, spring semester-opening Commonwealth Cup at the Smith River Sports Complex in Axton, Va.

    “This will be our first tournament, aside from our makeup Virginia Conference tournament this past fall, in about two years, so our girls are very excited,” Lady Flames Head Coach Jonathan Mast said, noting that there will be four pools of four teams, and Liberty will be in the same pool as No. 1-seeded Duke as well as Virginia Tech and Georgetown. “I would rather have quality than quantity, and we have 17 players who are bought in, who keep everybody accountable in workouts, and are excited to be playing again. I think we’re going to do very well.”

    He said it was a disappointing end to Liberty’s fall season at that Virginia Conference Championships postponed from the spring semester by COVID-19.  The Lady Flames, featuring a few players who had already graduated but were eligible to compete in the event, placed fourth behind Virginia Tech, Virginia, and William & Mary, with only the top three teams receiving bids to the East Coast Regional Championships.

    “We have built a pretty good foundation, and have remained faithful to continue to develop our game plan throughout the COVID season,” Mast said. “Though the actual experience side of things has been very difficult to develop (without regular tournament play), we have continued to build our fundamentals and frisbee IQs. We are fundamentally very sound as far as team trust and camaraderie. This is a very tight-knit group.”

    Graduate captain Victoria Dissmore, one of Liberty’s top scorers, makes a backhanded pass around alumni defenders.

    Bethany (Fowle) Weldy graduated over the winter, but Liberty returns graduate captains Victoria Dissmore and Mikayla DeSarle, as well as handlers Asha Gillette, a senior from New Delhi, India, and sophomore Vanessa Vallette.

    “We rely on both of them for distribution of the disc as well as getting open for resets, finding downfield targets, and being anchors for our offense,” Mast said. “We are focusing on trying to develop depth so that our stats are spread out evenly and we can even out the workload. We want to get everyone as much experience as we can so on Game 7 of Day 2 of a tournament, we are not all exhausted by the end.”

    He said the team has embraced two new themes this season, which apply both on and off the field.

    “We are trying to develop mental toughness and execution with confidence — in one’s self and teammates — and trying to apply those concepts to our sport and outside of practice,” Mast said. “Even if you make mistakes, that is a necessary part of the learning process, and that will help us as far as having confidence and energy and the ability to execute when push comes to shove and we’re tired.”

    The Lady Flames will also be competing in another USA Ultimate-sanctioned tournament Feb. 27-28 at East Carolina University before hosting its spring Hat Tournament and Alumni Games in mid-March and competing in the April 9-10 Virginia Conference Championships, most likely at the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex fields.

    “I am excited to see how things go,” Mast said. “We have the potential to be top-four or even to win the Conference Championships this spring. We have the tools; it is only a matter of execution.”

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer