Following an eight-game road stretch that concludes this Saturday at Davenport University and Sunday at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., the Flames — who are 7-1 in their first season competing as an MCLA Division I program — will be thrilled to play on their home turf for the first time since Feb. 23.
Liberty Head Coach Kyle McQuillan hopes Flames fans get equally excited and generate plenty of noise at the free event, a Liberty-approved late-night activity. Students will be issued passes to give to their residential directors.
“We have a large student base willing to come out and support these games and it’s a great opportunity to showcase what Liberty lacrosse is all about,” McQuillan said, noting playing after midnight “springs everybody’s competitive nature.”
“We’ll be looking to send a message that speaks to our level of competitiveness and what we’re striving for as a program within the SELC.”
Last year’s “Blackout” contest, a 16-8 win over SELC Division II foe Tennessee Wesleyan, attracted more than 2,000 spectators, packing the facility to standing-room-only status.
He said N.C. State, currently in first place in the SELC’s Northeast Region, was interested in the midnight affair at Liberty, the top team in the SELC Northwest Region, although it knows it will be playing in a hostile atmosphere.
“It’s not a home game for them, but any time you have a chance to play in that kind of an environment and that setting, it’s a unique opportunity that MCLA teams don’t have every week,” said McQuillan, who hopes to attract MCLA DI top-25 teams to Lynchburg in the next couple years.
To provide an outsider’s perspective on the game, McQuillan is bringing in former Emory University and Israeli National Team player Dave Franklin, an online podcast producer and insider for Inside Lacrosse magazine who covers the MCLA and International Lacrosse.
Franklin, who has served as a sideline reporter and play-by-play announcer for MCLA DI and DII National Championships, will provide commentary along with Liberty Flames Sports Networkbroadcaster Rett McGibbon on a live webcast produced in the facility’s new two-story press box.
“Liberty has one of the best Club Sports departments in the country and really keeps everything at the varsity level,” Franklin said. “Coach McQuillan has developed the program and this game to give the students something to look forward to. There were about 2,400 fans there last year, making it certainly one of the most highly touted and attended on the MCLA schedule.”
The Flames and Florida State University, the one team that has beaten Liberty this season and the last undefeated team in the SELC, were ranked just outside of the top 25 in this week’s MCLA DI poll. Last season, their last at the DII level, the Flames started the season ranked No. 20before ending the year at the No. 3 spot.