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No. 20 Liberty to Host James Madison in Season Opener, Sunday

August 30, 2019  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Liberty field hockey team will open its 2019 season against the James Madison Dukes, Sunday afternoon. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. at the Liberty Field Hockey Field.

This marks the fifth consecutive year the Lady Flames will square off with the Dukes in their season opener. Liberty is 2-2 all-time against JMU. The Lady Flames defeated the Dukes 6-1 last year in their first game of the season.

Liberty enters the contest as the 20th-ranked team in the nation in the preseason Penn Monto/National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) Division I National Coaches Poll. The Lady Flames finished 2018 with a 13-6 overall record and finished as the runner-up at the BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship. The Dukes finished 6-12 last season but have finished the season as a nationally ranked team twice in the past four years.

Lady Flames News and Notes

  • Liberty featured three players on the preseason All-BIG EAST team: junior defender/midfielder Ashley Dykema (preseason Defensive Player of the Year, All-BIG EAST team), junior forward/midfielder Jill Bolton (All-BIG EAST team) and senior goalkeeper Allison Schaefer (All-BIG EAST team).
  • The Lady Flames were selected to finish second in the BIG EAST behind No. 4 Connecticut. Liberty, in its fourth year in the league, is in search of its first BIG EAST title after taking second each of the last three seasons.
  • Liberty will face six opponents who are nationally ranked in the preseason poll: defending national champion No. 1 North Carolina (Oct. 20, away), No. 3 Duke (Nov. 3, home), No. 4 Connecticut (Oct. 26, home), No. 6 Harvard (Oct. 6, away), No. 10 Wake Forest (Sept. 22, away) and No. 11 Virginia (Oct. 28, away).
  • The Lady Flames are 4-4 all-time in season openers. They have defeated Saint Joseph's (4-0 final at home, 2013), Pacific (2-1 final at home, 2014) and James Madison (6-3 final at home, 2015, 6-1 final on the road, 2018) in past season openers.
  • Liberty's eight newcomers this year include: Bethany Dykema (M/D), Daniella Rhodes (F),  Nicole Buckley (F), Mackinzie Thompson (F), Santia McLaughlin (GK), Reese Canaday (F), Bridget Gallagher (F) and Vivian Pope (M/D).
  • In order to align with International Hockey Federation (FIH) format, the NCAA has made its regulation matches consisting of four 15-minute quarters starting this season. Up until this year, NCAA field hockey contests were made up of two 35-minute halves.
  • Liberty returns 10 players who appeared in all 19 games a season ago, including a trio of players who started all of those games in seniors Mallory Fortenbaugh, Kendra Jones and Annika Roberts.
  • In 2018, the Lady Flames finished No. 15 in the final NCAA Field Hockey RPI and No. 16 in the national poll.
  • Schaefer, who has started every game of her career in goal (56 games) up to this point, is the program's all-time leader in saves (308) and holds the single-season record as well (124), which she set as a freshman in 2016 on the way to being named BIG EAST Freshman of the Year.
  • Bolton is eighth in program history in both career goals (19) and points (47) entering her third season at Liberty. The Souderton, Pa., native is a two-time all-conference and two-time all-region selection.
  • Liberty is aiming for a return to the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship for the first time since 2014. In 2014, the Lady Flames topped Stanford 1-0 in the NorPac title game to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament.