Liberty will play host to the 2018 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship, Nov. 2-4
The Liberty field hockey program, which will play host to the 2018 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship, has announced its 2018 schedule.
For a fourth straight year, the Lady Flames will open their slate with a matchup against the James Madison Dukes, who closed 2017 as the 18th-ranked team in the country. Liberty and JMU will square off in the season opener on Aug. 24 in Harrisonburg, Va. Prior to that, the Lady Flames will take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in an exhibition contest on Aug. 18 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
"Our 2018 schedule will provide another excellent opportunity to make a run for the NCAA Tournament as an at-large bid, all while preparing ourselves for the tough BIG EAST competition," said Liberty head coach Nikki Parsley-Blocker. "We laid a solid foundation this spring and very much look forward to getting back on campus for preseason."
The Lady Flames' 18-game regular season slate (eight home matches) will feature eight teams who finished the year ranked in the top 25 National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll, including four of the top five teams in the nation: No. 1 UConn (national champion) No. 2 Duke, No. 4 North Carolina and No. 5 Virginia.
Liberty, now entering its third season in the BIG EAST in 2018 following runner-up finishes in both 2016 and 2017, closed the 2017 campaign at No. 21 in the NCAA Field Hockey RPI and with a No. 23 national ranking. The 2018 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship will be contested at Liberty for the first time ever from Nov. 2-4 at the Liberty Field Hockey Field. The winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Following its opening weekend at JMU (Aug. 24) and at Duke (Aug. 26), the Lady Flames will travel to the state of Ohio for a pair of non-conference bouts at Kent State (Aug. 31) and Ohio (Sept. 2).
Liberty's first home game of the season will be on Sept. 11 versus in-state foe Longwood. Three days later (Sept. 14), Temple comes to town to open 2018 BIG EAST competition.
The rest of the Lady Flames' non-conference slate for the season goes as follows: at Virginia (Sept. 16), at Lafayette (Sept. 23), vs. Wake Forest (Sept. 30), vs. North Carolina (Oct. 4), vs. Syracuse (in Durham, N.C., Oct. 14) and vs. Boston College (Oct. 21).
Liberty's other BIG EAST games include: at Villanova (Sept. 21), vs. Quinnipiac (Sept. 28), at Old Dominion (Oct. 5), vs. Georgetown (Oct. 12), at UConn (Oct. 18) and at Providence (Oct. 26). UConn won the 2017 national title following a perfect 23-0 season and has won three of the past five national championships in field hockey.
Liberty field hockey has advanced to the NCAA Field Hockey Championship two times in program history, when the Lady Flames won the NorPac Championship titles in both 2013 and 2014. Liberty won an NCAA Tournament game for the first time in 2014, a 3-1 victory over Richmond in Lynchburg.
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