The 2020-21 athletic season was the best in Liberty Athletic’s history. The Flames dominated the ASUN and made noise at the national level in several sports. With the athletic season coming to end this week, we have put together a ranking of the team’s with the best season on campus.
There’s no perfect way to determine who had the best season, but the primary factors used were winning a conference championship, national ranking or finish, and notable wins. This is not a ranking of the best program over a period of years, but instead of ranking of who had the best individual season during 2020-21.
Finishing the season ranked No. 17 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll in the highest profile sport in the country is no small feat. Behind second year head coach Hugh Freeze, the Flames finished the year with a 10-1 record with wins over top 25 and previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina to win the Cure Bowl, as well as wins over Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
If this was a ranking of the best programs on campus, golf would likely be at the top. The success that program has had over the past decade is unparalleled. This year was no different. The Flames won the ASUN Championship, finished 4th at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional, and finished with a 21st place finish at the NCAA Championship. The golf team was ranked inside the top 25 all season.
Head coach Dot Richardson has built one of the best programs on campus, and the Lady Flames had arguably their best season ever this spring. Liberty won the ASUN Championship, advanced to the Knoxville Regional Final by eliminating No. 1 seed and host Tennessee. The Lady Flames season came to an end when they were eliminated by James Madison who advanced to the Women’s College World Series’ semifinals. If JMU wasn’t grossly underseeded, the Lady Flames may have advanced to the program’s first ever Super Regionals. Liberty finished 44-15 overall with a 16-2 ASUN record. By advancing to the Regional Final, the Lady Flames were one of the final 32 softball teams standing. The Lady Flames achieved the program’s first ever top 25 ranking.
Scott Jackson’s squad on the diamond is not to be outdone by the softball team. The Liberty baseball team slipped in the ASUN Championship, but still managed to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Flames would also advance to the Regional Final in Knoxville and eliminated the ACC Champion Duke. Liberty was eliminated by No. 3 Tennessee, also finishing as one of the final 32 teams playing. The baseball team finished with a 41-16 overall record and 19-2 mark in the ASUN with a final RPI in the top 40.
5. Field Hockey
The field hockey team is difficult to rank, and they probably deserve to be higher on this list as they were ranked in the top 10 nationally most of the season. The Lady Flames finished with a 13-3 overall record and 10-2 mark in the Big East; however, they lost in the semifinals of the Big East Championship and did not advance to the NCAAs (though they were snubbed from receiving an at-large).
6. Women’s Cross Country
The Lady Flames had an impressive season as they won the ASUN Championship and finished 26th at the NCAA National Championship.
7. Men’s Tennis
The men’s tennis team had the best season in school history, finishing with a No. 39 final ranking and a program best 20 wins. The Flames have been ranked in the top 50 nationally since late March. The men’s tennis team finished the year at 20-7 overall and 6-0 in the ASUN and won the conference championship. Unfortunately, the Flames did not get the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Tournament as they missed out due to COVID protocols.
8. Men’s Basketball
Liberty won a third straight ASUN Championship after finishing 23-6 overall and 11-2 in conference play. The Flames were ranked in the top 100 by KenPom. Ritchie McKay’s squad had wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina and finished undefeated inside Liberty Arena.
9. Men’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field
The men continue their ASUN domination, winning championships in both indoor and outdoor track & field once again this season.
10. Swimming & Diving
The Lady Flames won the CCSA Swimming & Diving Championship once again after an impressive performance in Lynchburg.
11. Women’s Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field
The women won the ASUN outdoor track & field championship and finished second at the indoor track & field championships.
13. Women’s Soccer
After finishing 2-3-3 in the ASUN during the regular season, the Lady Flames had an unprecedented run to the ASUN Championship with four straight wins. Liberty would advance to the NCAA Tournament where they would fall to Washington, finishing the season with a 7-6-5 overall record.
13. Men’s Cross Country
The men’s cross country program, like their track & field counterparts, have one of the stronger programs on The Mountain. The Flames finished second at the ASUN Championship this year.
14. Women’s Tennis
The women’s tennis team had one of the better regular seasons in program history and on campus this year, finishing with an 18-7 overall record and an unblemished 6-0 mark in the ASUN. The Lady Flames would falter in the postseason, losing in the ASUN semifinals and missing out on the ASUN championship and the NCAA Tournament.
15. Men’s Soccer
Unlike most teams, the men’s soccer team was much better in non-conference play than against the ASUN. The Flames posted impressive wins over North Carolina and Coastal Carolina to finish 7-3-2 overall but with just a 1-2-1 mark in conference play.
16. Women’s Basketball
Unfortunately, the women’s basketball program is stuck behind FGCU in the ASUN. FGCU has built a dynasty in women’s basketball. The Lady Flames had another strong season, finishing 19-8 overall and 12-4 in the ASUN before losing to FGCU in the conference championship game.
Like women’s basketball, the Liberty lacrosse team is the best of the rest in the ASUN behind a dynasty in Jacksonville. The Lady Flames finished the year with a 10-9 overall record and 2-1 mark in the ASUN. Liberty lost to Jacksonville in the ASUN Championship game.
The Lady Flames had a 5-9 overall record and finished 5-7 in ASUN play this season, a shortened year due to COVID.