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Christine Goetz has three Times first-team all-county seasons on her field hockey resume as one of Liberty High School’s most stout defenders.

But Goetz has some trouble hiding her excitement about getting involved on offense when called upon, which is what she did Monday in the Lions’ Carroll County Athletic League opener against South Carroll.

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Goetz came up to play midfield during the game, and came through on a penalty corner midway through the second half that lifted Liberty to a 1-0 victory.

“I definitely was really excited to get the opportunity to get more assists and more goals, just be more into the game,” Goetz said. “Last year, we had a slot of slower games and I’d get a little out of it and then I don’t play the best. But being at midfield really allows me to connect with more of the team and get involved with the offense more.”

The Lions edged their county rivals in a matchup of two reigning state champions — Liberty won the Class 2A crown last fall, while South Carroll earned the 1A title.

The Lions and Cavaliers are both in 1A West this season.

Liberty's Riley Pardoe and South Carroll's Emma Sellers battle for the ball during the first half of the Lions' 1-0 win over the Cavaliers in Eldersburg Monday, Sept. 16, 2019.
Liberty's Riley Pardoe and South Carroll's Emma Sellers battle for the ball during the first half of the Lions' 1-0 win over the Cavaliers in Eldersburg Monday, Sept. 16, 2019. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Goetz scored with 14 minutes, 11 seconds to play after senior Caroline Evans inserted the ball from the end line to begin a corner play. Sophomore Caitlynn Szarko took Evans’ pass and spied Goetz moving toward the middle of the circle, and with another pass the senior was in position to take a point-blank shot.

Liberty (6-0, 1-0 CCAL) grabbed the lead and held off a surging Cavaliers squad for the remainder of the game. The Lions had 13 of their 17 penalty corners in the first half, but South Carroll (2-3, 0-1) had four after the break and held its own.

The Cavaliers nearly scored first, early in the second half, when a crossing shot from senior Sydni Carroll went just wide along the goal line. South Carroll created more chances in the second half, with senior Meghan Radnoff patrolling the midfield.

Goetz started the game anchoring Liberty’s back row, but coach Brenda Strohmer moved her up to the midfield to help create better matchups and offensive chances. It’s a move, in part, of necessity, Strohmer said — the Lions graduated a first-team all-county midfielder this year in Heidi Ellis.

“We had to fill that spot, and Christine asked for the chance,” Strohmer said. “I said, ‘You realize you have to get back on defense too,’ and she’s like, ‘Yeah.’ She does play both. If I know that it’s a strong defensive game, she’s back on defense. But she’s playing a lot of midfield.”

Strohmer and Goetz said starting this season strong is crucial if the Lions want to add another state championship. And after winning its first county title since 1982 last fall, Liberty can likely expect to get everyone’s best efforts.

South Carroll might very well end up getting another crack at Liberty during the regional playoffs.

“They didn’t give up the whole time,” said SC coach Julie Radnoff. “This is a two-round fight. This was the first round. Learn some things, adjust some things.”

Goals: L-Christine Goetz.

Assists: L-Caroline Evans, Caitlynn Szarko.

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Saves: SC-6 (Rachel Hagler); L-2 (Mikayla Bull).

Halftime: Tied, 0-0.

JV result: Tied, 1-1.

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