The Liberty lacrosse squad finished the regular season with a 4-4 Big South record, claiming the No. 5 seed in the upcoming Big South Women's Lacrosse Championship. To complement the Lady Flames' performance, Liberty was well represented in the Big South postseason honors category.
Redshirt senior captains Colleen Ekert and Callie Francis were named to the all-conference first team squad. Senior captain Kallie Britton was joined by a pair of freshmen in Kayla Foster and Brianna McCaffrey on the all-conference second team, while Foster was also tabbed as the program's first-ever Big South Freshman of the Year. Kelly Belue was named to the all-academic team, while Melanie Via rounds out the honorees by being tabbed to the honorable mention all-conference team.
Ekert claims her second consecutive first team all-conference appearance in only her second year in the red and blue uniform. Ekert finished the regular season with 42 ground balls, 20 draw controls and 33 caused turnovers. Ekert ranks fourth in the Big South in caused turnovers. The New York native also chipped in one assist and one goal on the offensive end. In just two years of competition, Ekert ranks third in program history for career caused turnovers with 65 and sixth in program history in ground balls with 88.
Francis joined the squad for the 2016 season after transferring from Duke where she competed in both track & field and lacrosse. The Florida native accumulated 36 points, ranking third on the team. Francis netted 25 goals and recorded 11 assists, ranking second on the squad in both categories. The redshirt senior also ranked second on the team in draw controls with 28 and caused turnovers with 19, while also finishing fourth on the squad in ground balls with 27.
Foster turned in an outstanding freshman campaign, leading the team in points with 50 and assists with 28. Foster needs just six assists to pass Morgan Becker for the most assists in a single season in program history. The Pennsylvania native also chipped in 22 goals, ranking third on the team. Foster's efforts aided her in appearing on the second team all-conference as well as becoming the first Lady Flame to garner the Big South Freshman Player of the Year.
Britton finds herself on the all-conference second team for the second consecutive season. The Kansas native leads the squad in goals with 33 and is currently fourth on the team in assists with nine. Britton's 42 points ranks second on the team, behind Foster's 50 tallies. Britton is positioned third on the squad in ground balls with 30, while also chipping in 17 draw controls and 14 caused turnovers. Britton currently ranks second in program history in assists with 58, while also sitting in the fourth slot in both goals (103) and points (161).
McCaffrey garners recognition on the second team all-conference after finishing the season with a team-best 40 draw controls. The Florida freshman has anchored the midfield on the draws, winning nearly 22 percent of the Lady Flames draws. McCaffrey has also netted 12 goals and recorded three assists. In addition, McCaffrey has forced 15 turnovers and has scooped up 21 ground balls.
Via was named to the honorable mention all-conference squad. Via has started in each of Liberty's 17 contests and has accumulated 16 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers. Via is one of Liberty's top face-guard defenders on the squad and is tasked each game with shutting down the opponent's top scorer.
Belue rounds out the Liberty honorees as the senior midfielder was named to the Big South All-Academic squad. Belue finished the regular season with three goals and six assists. The North Carolinian has accumulated a GPA of over 3.8 as an exercise science major and will graduate this upcoming May.
The Big South's Offensive Player of the Year was awarded to Campbell's Loren Day, while teammate Erica Hitch was named Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Winthrop's John Sung and High Point's Lyndsey Boswell were named co-coach of the year, while Winthrop's Alaina Girani and Longwood's Shiloh McKenzie were tabbed as co-defensive players of the year.
The 2016 Big South Lacrosse Championship gets under way on Saturday with the quarterfinal round. The No. 5 seed Lady Flames will travel to Conway, S.C., to take on No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. at Brooks Stadium.
2016 Big South Conference Women's Lacrosse All-Conference Teams First Team All-Conference ATT Loren Day, Sr., Campbell ATT Allie Foard, Sr., High Point ATT Emily Meier, Sr., High Point MF Shannon Gallagher, Sr., Winthrop MF Sarah Butler, Sr., Longwood MF Erica Perrotta, So., High Point MF Katherine Judge, So., Winthrop MF Kristina Renner, Sr., High Point D Shiloh McKenzie, Sr., Longwood D Christina Del Sesto, Jr., High Point D Colleen Ekert, R-Sr., Liberty GK Alaina Girani, So., Winthrop AL Charlotte O'Leary, Sr., MF, Coastal Carolina AL Callie Francis, R-Sr., MF, Liberty AL Paige Jenkins, Jr., D, Winthrop
Second Team All-Conference ATT Katie Clark, So., Winthrop ATT Kayla Foster, Fr., Liberty ATT Katie McHugh, Sr., Longwood MF Amanda Steinmuller, So., Gardner-Webb MF Kallie Britton, Sr., Liberty MF Melissa Placek, Fr., Campbell MF Brianna McCaffrey, Fr., Liberty MF Leah Pace, Sr., High Point D Erin O'Hara, Jr., Campbell D Nyra Constant, Sr., Coastal Carolina D Maura Talvacchia, Jr., Presbyterian GK Molly Andrews, Fr., High Point AL Erica Hitch, Sr., ATT, Campbell AL Sara Nolan, Sr., ATT, Coastal Carolina AL Hayley Krause, Sr., D, Winthrop
Honorable Mention All-Conference ATT Alex Fusco, So., Gardner-Webb ATT Kristen Shriver, So., Winthrop MF Sophie Crowther, So., Coastal Carolina D Monique Martin, So., Gardner-Webb D Melanie Via, Sr., Liberty
All-Academic Team Erica Hitch, Sr., ATT, Campbell Gabby Vujanic, So., MF, Coastal Carolina Cassidy McDowell, So., GK, Gardner-Webb Samantha Brown, Jr., ATT, High Point Kelly Belue, Sr., MF, Liberty Sarah Butler, Sr., MF, Longwood Katy Richardson, Sr., ATT, Presbyterian Emily Hoke, Sr., D, Radford Logan McCarthy, Sr., MF, Winthrop
Offensive Player of the Year Loren Day, Sr., ATT, Campbell
Co-Defensive Player of the Year Shiloh McKenzie, Sr., D, Longwood Alaina Girani, So., GK, Winthrop
Freshman of the Year Kayla Foster, Fr., ATT, Liberty
Co-Coach of the Year John Sung, Winthrop Lyndsey Boswell, High Point
Scholar-Athlete of the Year Erica Hitch, Sr., ATT, Campbell
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