It won’t be easy. But that’s by design.
“This year, relative to last year, we have the strength of schedule to make a push for regionals,” said Chambers.
“We thought we had a great team last year but we didn’t get any recognition. We want that opportunity (a top 10 ranking in the South) . . . Going to regionals is the next step for us.
Almost a third of the 23 games on the Flames’ schedule are with teams that were ranked last season: No. 5 Loyola-Maryland, Kennesaw State (No. 6 as a DII team, but now a DIII squad) No. 9 Salisbury, No. 11 Christopher Newport and No. 15 William & Mary.
The addition of Virginia Commonwealth and Catholic to the Atlantic Division from the highly competitive Colonial should make the Flames’ 14-game conference schedule even more formidable.
“Both are really good teams,” said Chambers. “We’ve played VCU before but not Catholic. We play them in our last game. I’ve heard good things about them.
“VCU will be a contender to make the playoffs, and they’ll be a challenge to us.”
The Flames will meet CNU twice and VCU and Loyola-Maryland once each in their first five games.
Said Chambers of the challenging start to the season, “It’s going to be interesting . . . We’ve got a lot of veterans coming back and they know what their roles are going to be. The freshmen last year didn’t know what to expect.”
Liberty lost a handful of players to graduation. Colton Crossely will be missed the most. He was second on the team with 11 goals and 10 assists in 9 games.
Chambers said the other grads were important role players but ought to be replaceable.
Returning for 2012-13 are captains Nate Atangany, Brandon Cockburn and Mark Lavriviere; core defensemen Carl Harter and Drew Muir; and both goalies, John Hyland and Justin Gortman. Hyland was 7-1-1 with a 2.07 goals against average and .900 save percentage last season.
Also, the Flames will likely enjoy the trickle-down effects of Liberty’s three-tiered men’s program, which includes DI and DII squads as well as Chambers’ team. Players who don’t make either of those teams may opt to play for the DIII club.
2012-13 Liberty DIII Schedule
Sept. 14, at Christopher Newport
Sept. 15, at Christopher Newport
Sept. 28, Virginia Military Institute*
Sept. 29, Virginia Commonwealth*
Oct. 12, at Loyola-Maryland
Oct. 13, at Salisbury
Oct. 20, at Virginia Military Institute*
Oct. 26, Radford*
Nov. 2, at Old Dominion*
Nov. 3, at Virginia Commonwealth*
Nov. 9, James Madison*
Nov. 10, George Mason*
Nov. 16, at Radford*
Nov. 17, Northern Virginia Community College*
Dec. 1, Maryland*
Dec. 2, Maryland
Jan. 18, William & Mary*
Jan. 19, at James Madison*
Feb. 1, Kennesaw State
Feb. 2, Kennesaw State
Feb. 8, Johnson & Wales
Feb. 9, Johnson & Wales
Feb. 15, at Catholic*
* BRHC game