Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lady Flames Start Year Ranked No. 25 in NFHCA Poll

The Liberty Lady Flames field hockey team will open the 2017 season as the 25th-ranked team in the nation, as announced by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) today in its Division I Penn Monto/NFHCA preseason national poll.
Liberty shares the final spot in the rankings with Pacific, last year's runner-up in the America East Conference.
The Lady Flames will face nine ranked foes in 2017, beginning with their season opener against No. 19 James Madison, Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Liberty Field Hockey Field. Liberty will then travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. for a Sept. 1 match at No. 11 Michigan.
The Lady Flames' challenging slate features games against five of the top six teams in the preseason poll. Liberty will host the defending national champion, No. 3 Delaware, on Sept. 10 in Lynchburg. Later in the season, the Lady Flames will welcome No. 1 North Carolina (Oct. 29) and No. 2 Duke (Oct. 22) to the Hill City. No. 4 UConn will also make the journey to Liberty for a BIG EAST contest on Oct. 14.
Liberty's other games versus preseason ranked opponents include: at No. 6 Maryland (Oct. 8), at No. 15 Wake Forest (Oct. 1) and vs. No. 23 Old Dominion (Sept. 29).
In its first year in the BIG EAST in 2016, Liberty finished as the runner-up in both the regular-season standings and at the 2016 BIG EAST Field Hockey Championship. The team closed out the 2016 campaign in the No. 25 slot in the final NCAA Field Hockey RPI.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Liberty Field Hockey Blog Aug. 19

Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017
5:02 p.m.

It has been a fun last two days with Liberty field hockey. We took off from East Campus yesterday around 12:20 for Williamsburg. We arrived at Waller Mill Park a little before 4 p.m. for an activity day with the William & Mary Tribe field hockey team.

Jacki had laser tags guns and a sweet setup for outdoor laser tag in the woods. We played four-minute rounds, and I got to play one round with the seniors. It was over 90 degrees, so it made for a very warm day. One girl on the W & M team accidently stepped in a hornet’s nest and got stung by a ton of them during the game.

The Tribe team also made burgers and chicken and had other food for us, which was very nice. There was also an assortment of games, including Spikeball and horseshoes. After eating, Jacki and I got in a game of horseshoes against Tess and Mark (the William & Mary coaching staff). Carolyn and Victoria also ended up playing with us as well.

After taking a group picture around 5:50, we headed for the bus and then the hotel. We arrived at the hotel and had a short meeting before the girls had regen.

I got in a 5K run on a steamy and muggy evening in Williamsburg. Later on, the girls came by our room for snacks.

Nikki, Nat, Joey, Joey and I watched Live PD for a little bit from 9:30-10:20 or so. I was able to work in field hockey game notes before bed.

Today, I woke up around 7:45 and got in a run with Nat starting just a little after 8. We did just under three miles with very high humidity (99%) again. The breakfast spread had a bevy of good options, including made-to-order omelets, fresh fruit, coffee, bacon, etc. While waiting for my omelet, I got to talking with Greer about running. She has ran three full marathons and loves to run. It was cool to be able to talk running with someone who enjoys it.

While sitting with a big group of them, we got to talking about favorite movies among other topics. I also had to make sure to tell Greer I was sorry for her loss of Steve Irwin, and we asked him where she was when it happened.

At 10:45, we met in the meeting space for chapel. Coach Nikki shared what was on her heart, and then we went into a time of worship. It’s always great to see the focus turned towards the Lord during this time.

We arrived at Busch Field just after noon and waited on the bus for a few minutes before heading out to the field. Prior to the game, I headed down to the field to take photos for the Instagram story. I also touched base with their SID, Jacob Skipper, who ran the scoreboard.

It was another good learning experience inputting stats. Mal put us on top, 1-0, as she tipped in a ball on a penalty corner late in the first half. William & Mary scored with 12 seconds left in the half to tie the game at 1-1 heading into the half.

In the second half, Moniek put us ahead again with a nifty goal after weaving through two defenders and beating the Tribe goalkeeper with a backhand shot. William & Mary tied it up shortly after before Agui put us ahead for good with a rocket backhanded strike into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Some parents and fans made the trip, so the girls mingled with them before heading to the bus. We had a preorder from Chipotle, so Gary (our bus driver) took us there to pick up the food before heading out of town.

On the bus, the coaches debriefed the game with the girls. Now, everybody is just chilling out with about an hour left in the ride.

Our first regular-season game is a week from today at home against James Madison at 1 p.m.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Field Hockey Team Continues Preparations for 2017 Season

The Liberty field hockey squad is continuing to prepare for the upcoming 2017 season.
LFSN reporter Nick Pierce had the opportunity to check in with head coach Nikki Parsley, along with sophomore Agueda Moroni and junior Abby Julius.
The Lady Flames were picked to finish second in the 2017 BIG EAST Field Hockey Preseason Coaches' Poll, released on Thursday by the conference. Moroni and Julius both garnered individual recognition by being selected to the preseason All-BIG EAST team.
Liberty will play one final exhibition contest at William & Mary on Saturday (1 p.m.). The Lady Flames will commence regular-season play with a home showdown against James Madison on Aug. 26. Liberty, in its second year in the BIG EAST Conference, will open BIG EAST play against Villanova on Sept. 16 in Lynchburg.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Field Hockey Bolsters 2017 Recruiting Class with Four Additions

Liberty Field Hockey Head Coach Nikki Parsley has announced the addition of four student-athletes to its 10-player 2017 recruiting class.
The four players – Greer Wilson, Victoria O'KeeffeMoniek van Aarle and Kennedy Luke – come to Liberty from four different countries. Wilson, O'Keeffe and van Aarle hail from Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands, respectively, while Luke is from Pennsylvania.
(L-R) Wilson, O'Keeffe, van Aarle and Luke are the latest additions to the Liberty Lady Flames field hockey program.
"I am very excited to welcome three new international student-athletes from Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands," Parsley stated. "They are all feisty and opportunistic players with great game sense. Greer, Moniek and Victoria are all handy players that add tremendous depth to our lineup."
"Kennedy is an enthusiastic, humble and hard-working goalkeeper. We are thrilled to have her on the team and rounding out our goalkeeper crew for the 2017 season," said Liberty Field Hockey Assistant Coach Jacki Bolt. "With a strong technical and tactical foundation, I look forward to seeing her development, confident that she will become a leader in goal for the Flames."
Greer Wilson (M – Brisbane, Australia/Vermont)
Wilson, a midfielder, joins the Lady Flames as a transfer following two years at Vermont. She started in all 38 games in her two seasons with the Catamounts. As a freshman in 2015, Wilson earned America East All-Rookie team honors.
As the captain of the team during her senior year of high school, Wilson guided her squad to a 15-1 record and Queensland Girls Secondary School Sports Association (QGSSSA) title. For her efforts, the Australian native was tabbed the MVP. Wilson was also named 2013 Northern Suburbs MVP with her club squad, the QLD Schoolgirls field hockey team.
"Liberty is such a unique and special place," Wilson said. "I think choosing Liberty wasn't just about selecting a top field hockey program and reputable school, but to become a part of an accepting family I will have for the rest of my life."
Victoria O'Keeffe (F – Wellington, New Zealand/Samuel Marsden Collegiate School)
O'Keeffe, a forward, joins the Lady Flames following a successful prep career and club career in New Zealand.
As a senior on the Samuel Marsden Collegiate School first XI field hockey team, O'Keeffe guided her squad to a 22-5 record in Premier 1 competition while serving as a team captain and leading her team in scoring (20 goals). O'Keeffe was also on the Capital U18 Regional Representative hockey team that placed fourth nationally. 
As a junior, O'Keeffe was Samuel Marsden's top goal scorer. She also played on the Wellington U18 Association team that placed fifth at the National U18 Association Tournament.
O'Keeffe played club field hockey for Harbour City Hockey (2016-17) and the Karori Hockey Club (2012-15). Her signature moment for Harbour City was winning the Jenny Hair Trophy National Secondary Schools Hockey Tournament in Napier, New Zealand in 2016. O'Keefe also collected first-place finishes with her Karori Hockey team at the Wellington Women's Premier Competition (2015) and the P2 Premier 3 Women's Competition (2013).
"I am so thankful to be able to be a part of the Liberty field hockey team and program, be coached by wonderful coaches and attend such a fabulous university," O'Keeffe stated. "It is a dream come true and goes beyond expectations. Liberty is truly unique, and I am honored to feel part of it."
Moniek van Aarle (F – Schijndel, Netherlands/Maastricht University)
Van Aarle, a forward, will be coming to Liberty after studying at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Van Aarle obtained a bachelor's degree in medicine from Maastricht and will be pursuing her master's degree in human counseling: health & wellness at Liberty.
Over the past five years, van Aarle has played at the club level for SMHC De Hopbel. Van Aarle played in all 95 matches, compiling 53 goals, 26 assists and 89 points. She helped guide the 2015-16 SMHC De Hopbel squad to a third-place finish for the first time in club history. Van Aarle's U18 squad won an indoor championship during the 2012-13 season, and she then went on to captain the team during the 2013-14 season.
"I was looking for a great and understanding field hockey coach and a warm team. I think the Lady Flames field hockey team has both," van Aarle said. "(Coach) Nikki's kindness, compassion and persistence, combined with the Skype conversation with one of my future teammates and the active academic support, makes me certain about signing with Liberty."
Kennedy Luke (GK – New Hope, Pa./New Hope-Solebury High School)
Luke, a goalkeeper, joins the Liberty field hockey squad following a highly successful career at New Hope-Solebury High School.
As a senior, Luke set the school record with 15 shutouts during the season in leading her team to a 14-3 league record and runner-up finishes in the Bicentennial Athletic League (BAL) as well as in district and regional play. Luke also guided the Lions to their first appearance in the state tournament in the last 25 years.  
For her outstanding play in her final campaign, Luke earned a bevy of awards, including: PA All-State first team, All-Intelligencer first team, BAL first team, Phila Hockey Senior All-Star, 2016 NFHCA selection and team Defensive MVP.
Luke was a three-year varsity letterwinner and served as a team captain. She closed out her career with a school-record 27 shutouts. The New Hope, Pa., native played club field hockey for Mystx FHC.
"The moment I stepped on campus and on that field, I knew that this was where I wanted to be. I visited many schools after that, but in my heart, I was already committed to Liberty," Luke stated. "As much as I love field hockey, I would have gone to the school regardless, so having the opportunity to play means the world to me. It's been such an incredible journey to get here, but I can't imagine it any other way."

2017 Liberty Field Hockey Blog Aug. 15

Friday, Aug. 15, 2017
6:33 p.m.
We are heading back to Lynchburg from Richmond on the bus now. We took off from East Campus Field House just after 10 a.m. for our first exhibition game of 2017. For basically all of the ride there, it rained. As we got closer to Richmond, the rain picked up to a downpour.

Our locker room was in the basketball arena, the Robins Center. As we got ready to head over to the field, the rain subsided, and the sun appeared to be peering out from behind the clouds.

After warmups, it was time to get the party started at the steamy Crenshaw Field. Today was the first time where I inputted stats in StatCrew for field hockey, and it was a really good learning experience. Last year, I served as the caller/spotter, but this year, I want to broaden my skills and be able to enter stats at home contests.

We got off to a quick start, as Agui scored in the first four minutes of the game to put us ahead, 1-0. Richmond rebounded shortly after to tie the game at 1-1. The game went into a stalemate, with the score remained tied at 1 at halftime.

Agui scored her second goal of the day in the 44th minute on a penalty corner, assisted by Mal and Pippa. The Spiders once again answered the bell, countering with a tally of their own in the 53rd minute to even the score at 2 apiece.

Agui completed her hat trick with another short corner goal in the 62nd minute. This time, Ml and Alynn provided the assists. Just over a minute later, Alexis scored on a rebound from a shot from Jill shot, put us ahead, 4-2.

Victoria added a goal on a tip on a ball from Jill, putting Liberty up 5-2 at 66:50. Regulation time expired with the score at 5-2.

After a short break, both teams wanted to practice and simulate overtime, so we began a 15-minute sudden death overtime session. However, as the overtime session started, ominous clouds began rolling in. Just over seven minutes into the session, the day was halted because of lightning and an approaching storm.

We went back to the basketball arena and then headed up to the fourth floor terrace for a shared dinner with the Richmond team and staff. The aroma of barbecue from Mission BBQ wafted in the room. The meal was absolutely outstanding.

We are on the bus now on the way back from Richmond. Overall, it was a good start to the preseason considering training just began five days ago. We leave on Friday at noon for William & Mary and take on the Tribe in an exhibition contest on Saturday. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

LFSN Game On Feature: 2017 Summer Bridge

LFSN Game On recently featured the Liberty Athletics Summer Bridge Program on its 30-minute weekly show, an academic program designed to help Liberty's incoming student-athletes get acclimated to college life.

Over 100 student-athletes took part in Liberty's Summer Bridge program, coordinated by Academic Affairs for Athletics. During the three-week program, new Liberty Flames student-athletes earned six credit hours in the classroom, listened to presentations on relevant topics from notable speakers and built relationships with their new teammates and peers.
Student-athletes also served the community during the month of July at Park View Community Mission. Throughout the 2017-18 academic year, new Liberty student-athletes will serve the Lynchburg community and surrounding area alongside their teammates under the initiative of #FlamesGiveBack. Last year, Liberty student-athletes logged more than 13,000 hours of community service.
Follow Liberty's student-athlete community service efforts throughout the 2017-18 academic year by using the hashtags #FlamesGiveBack and #PayitForward. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

2017 Liberty Field Hockey Blog Aug. 11

Friday, Aug. 11, 2017
10:22 p.m.
Liberty field hockey practices and training started back up yesterday morning. There are 27 players on this year’s team, including 17 returners and 10 newcomers. I met most of the newcomers at Summer Bridge back in July but had yet to see them on the pitch.

I showed up to practice yesterday (Thursday) in the morning right as the girls were finishing up their run test. After the run test, I stayed for a short bit to watch them go through some drills.

At night, I came back to watch the team scrimmage. Kristie brought watermelon, like she traditionally does to the first night practice, so I helped her bring the cooler over to near the field. She cut up three large watermelons, and the girls got a little late night snack at the end of practice. It was good to reconnect with some of the returners and watch them play with the newcomers.

Today (Friday) was quite the busy day with morning practice, afternoon corners and scrimmage at night. Following morning practice, marketing and IT got together up in the press box for a systems test to ensure PA, music, etc. were all in working order for the start of the season (Aug. 26 at home vs. JMU).

During the afternoon session, the girls were split up and worked on corners on each end of the field. After practice, Nick and Tim did interviews with Coach Nikki, Alynn and Cass for a preseason update piece that I would post before I left work.

After the interviews, I got the chance to talk to a good amount of the sophomores and see how their summers were. They are now the “Crafty Sophomores”-we’ll see if the term and title sticks.

I came back around 7:55 to watch the evening’s scrimmage, which featured four segments (three 15-minute, one 10-minute). There was certainly some strong competition out there. It rained for some portions of the scrimmage and then would stop by a bit before starting back up. The girls are back at it again tomorrow for practice.

Last year’s mission for the team was “SOW BIG”, and this year it is “Just One”.

On Tuesday, we head to Richmond for a scrimmage against the Spiders.