This spring is what many in college athletics have referred to as Super Spring. Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic and most sports shut down during the fall and winter, the spring has become home to most college teams’ seasons in 2021. For Liberty, 19 of the school’s 20 Division I programs are in competition this spring, and, if you include football going through spring practice, all of the 20 programs are in action.
We will provide weekly updates on all of Liberty’s NCAA Division I teams in action this spring, with the exception of football, men’s basketball, and baseball, as we cover those teams regularly.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (19-8, 12-4)
The Lady Flames have finished their season, falling to No. 1 seed FGCU in the ASUN Championship Game, 84-62. Liberty defeated No. 7 Bellarmine, 88-59, and No. 3 North Florida, 65-52, to advance to the program’s 22nd conference tournament final in the past 25 years. FGCU ended up with an 11 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, losing in the First Round.
After winning the ASUN Women’s Cross Country Championship, the Lady Flames advanced to the program’s first ever appearance at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. Liberty posted a 27th place finish while Adelyn Ackley (66th place) and Calli Doan (85th place) each notched top 100 individual finishes.
#8 FIELD HOCKEY (13-3, 10-2)
The Lady Flames were edged by No. 16 Old Dominion last Thursday in the Big East championship semifinals, 2-1. Liberty saw its four game winning streak snapped and dreams of making a run on the national stage come to an end. ODU took a 2-0 lead into the halftime break while Liberty responded with a goal early in the fourth quarter. Over the final 12 minutes, the Lady Flames drew one penalty corner and recorded one shot on goal but was unable to score the equalizer. This past Saturday night, the NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship field was announced and Liberty did not make the cut in the 12-team tournament that includes nine automatic bids and three at large teams.
A week after winning its first ever ASUN Men’s Golf Championship, No. 14 Liberty finished in 4th place at the Robert Kepler Intercollegiate, hosted by Ohio State. The Flames were paced by Ervin Chang who finished tied for ninth place with a 2-over par 215. The next time the Flames step on the golf course will be for the 2021 NCAA Regionals (May 17-19). Liberty will learn its NCAA Regional destination during the NCAA Men’s Golf Selection Show that will air on the Golf Channel at 2 pm on May 5.
LACROSSE (9-7, 2-1)
The Lady Flames began a three game tour of Florida at Stetson, utilizing an 8-0 run to close the first half on its way to an 18-9 win over the Hatters. Liberty then scooted over to Jacksonville to take on the three-time defending ASUN champs Jacksonville Dolphins. The Lady Flames lost to the No. 9 Dolphins, 22-11 as Jacksonville takes over first place in the ASUN at 2-0.
Liberty will play at No. 9 Florida on Wednesday afternoon in the regular season finale. The ASUN Lacrosse Championship begins Thursday, May 6 at Kennesaw State.
WOMEN’S SOCCER (7-6-5, 2-3-3)
For the first time since 2016, the Liberty Lady Flames soccer team advanced to the NCAA College Cup, but the stay was brief as Liberty fell to No. 24 Washington, 3-0, on Tuesday night at the Sportsplex in Matthews, North Carolina. Under ASUN Coach of the Year Lang Wedemer, in his fourth season at Liberty, the Lady Flames finish the season at 7-6-5.
It took just 67 seconds for the Huskies to get on the scoreboard as Ameera Hussen was able to give Washington the early 1-0 lead, in Liberty’s first ever meeting against a PAC-12 opponent. The Huskies kept the pressure on the Flames, scoring a second goal in the minutes just prior to halftime to take a commanding 2-0 lead into the halftime break. The Huskies would add one more goal in the second half.
Liberty falls to 0-7 all-time in the first round of the NCAA College Cup, and has only scored one goal in the seven games, scoring against Wake Forest in 2000. Washington advances to the second round to play No. 15 Saint Louis.
The loss brings to an end Liberty’s season which was capped by an impressive four game run to the ASUN women’s soccer championship, the first conference championship for the program since 2016 when Liberty won the Big South. The Lady Flames entered the ASUN Tournament having won three games all season, yet Liberty won four matches in 10 days to complete the surprising run to the championship, including wins over the 1 seed in both the North and South divisions.
MEN’S SOCCER (7-3-2, 1-2-1)
The men’s soccer team added a final match last Saturday at No. 21 Coastal Carolina with hopes of improving the team’s resume for a possible at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Seth Clark and Noah Holmes scored goals in the first half while Liberty’s defense limited the Chanticleers to nine shots in the contest as Liberty won, 2-1, at CCU Soccer Complex. Last Monday, the NCAA revealed the field for the Tournament and the Flames were not selected as the season has come to an end.
SOFTBALL (33-12, 13-2)
Liberty began the week with its second win of he season over Virginia, edging the visiting Cavaliers 3-2 last Wednesday at Liberty Softball Stadium. It was the 30th win of the season for the Lady Flames as Liberty sweeps the season series over Virginia. Devyn Howard came through in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run triple to push Liberty ahead 3-1.
The Lady Flames then hosted Bellarmine for a three-game ASUN series which Liberty swept. The Lady Flames won the opener on Sunday, 8-0, in six innings. Shortly thereafter, in a double header, Liberty run-ruled the Knights 10-0 in five innings. On Monday, in a much different game than the two on Sunday, the Lady Flames were able to knock off Bellarmine, 2-1. Liberty has now won 12 straight games.
This week Liberty is scheduled to host Virginia Tech on Wednesday evening at 6 pm. The Lady Flames then travel to Georgia for a crucial three-game series at Kennesaw State scheduled to begin Saturday afternoon with a double header. Liberty is currently in first place in the ASUN at 13-2 with both losses coming to Kennesaw State at home earlier this season. The Owls are 10-2 in ASUN play and just behind the Lady Flames. This will be the final regular season series for Liberty.
SWIMMING & DIVING (3-0, 3-0)
Senior Payton Keiner placed 49th in the 200 backstroke at the 2021 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. Keiner also finished 54th in the 100 backstroke. Freshman Maddie Freece placed 9th in the three-meter diving on day two of the NCAA Division I Women’s Diving Zone A Championships and Junior Lauren Chennault finished 22nd.
Following a record-setting freshman season, Freece was named CCSA Women’s Diver of the Year. She is the first Liberty student-athlete to be named CCSA Women’s Diver of the year and the first freshman to be voted diver of the year since it was first awarded in 2011.
WOMEN’S TENNIS (18-7, 6-0)
The Lady Flames were edged by FGCU, 4-3, in the semifinals of the 2021 ASUN Women’s Tennis Championship on Friday afternoon at the UNF Tennis Complex. The Lady Flames, the top seed in the ASUN North Division, finish the season with 18 victories which is tied for its second most in a season in program history.
#48 MEN’S TENNIS (20-7, 6-0)
Liberty secured the 2021 ASUN Men’s Tennis Championship title on Saturday morning at the UNF Tennis Complex, sweeping FGCU 4-0 for the championship. It’s the first conference championship in program history, while picking up the 20th win of the season, as the Flames continue to add to its school record win total. The Flames now advance to the 2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Tennis Championship and will find out who they face in the first round with the 2021 NCAA Men’s Tennis Selection Show airing on May 3 at 6:30 pm on NCAA.com.
TRACK & FIELD
Liberty won four events on Saturday at the Aggie Classic in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Flames’ victors included Kyle Harkabus in the men’s 1,500 and Ally Kipchirchir in the men’s 800 as well as Grace Artis in the women’s hammer and Kyle Mitchell in the men’s shot put.
The Flames will divide its team between two different meets this week as some will head to Jacksonville, Florida for the UNF Invitational. Others will head up Route 29 to Charlottesville for the Virginia Grand Prix.
VOLLEYBALL (5-9, 5-7)
Liberty’s volleyball season came to an end at the KSU Convocation Center as the Lady Flames fell to defending ASUN champion Kennesaw State, 3-0, in the ASUN Quarterfinals. Liberty has been eliminated by Kennesaw State from the ASUN tournament for the second year in a row.