Val Thompson has already had quite a career for Liberty girls lacrosse. She’s won a state championship, been a leading scorer for the Lions most of her career and an All-County selection.
She still has one game to go.
Thompson’s high school career will come to an end Tuesday when Liberty plays Fallston at 6 p.m. in the Class 1A state championship game at Loyola Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex. Already one of the most decorated Lions in program history, she’s aiming to go out a two-time champion.
“I’m just really excited to play right now,” Thompson said. “We’ve been anticipating this all season and really going through our tough schedule in county games, preparing us for this. ... It’s great to be back, twice in a row. I think we’ve been really excited this year. All season long, before every game, we’ve been real excited to win. I’m happy we can use that energy and I can have fun my last game with some of the girls I really love playing with.”
Thompson has been a key piece for coach Tom Brandel’s team, as she leads the team with 72 goals and also has 18 assists. Brandel called her “a complete player” who “can play offense, she can play defense” and score — or assist others — in the biggest moments.
Thompson, who will play at Towson next year, scored 42 goals in the abbreviated 2021 season but saw her role change this spring as the target on her back grew. She became the focus of opposing defenses.
“The first couple games that started happening and it definitely frustrated me,” she said. “I got in my own head a little bit worrying about that. But then I realized I just have to work harder to get open, work harder off-ball, so by the time the ball comes around to me I can be open. Also just stepping back from scoring as much and assisting more, which I think has been helpful as well.”
She’s adopted the mindset of trying to make everyone better, setting up teammates for goals instead of carrying the scoring load herself. She said she’s learned this year what’s best for the team. Sometimes that’s scoring goals, but sometimes it’s simply setting a pick to get a teammate an open look.
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As one of only two seniors on the roster — along with defenseman Abby Ozgar — Thompson has also taken on a leadership role.
“She’s like having another coach at practice and on the field,” Brandel said. “She’s leading the girls. She wants to win another state title as bad as any player I’ve ever seen.”
Thompson, though, says team leadership is a group effort with several underclassmen also taking on those responsibilities. She said she leads by example.
“It makes it easy to step up when there are times I need to step up, having them back me up,” she said. “Just setting an example for everybody has been my goal.”
As Liberty aims for a second straight state championship, Thompson sees this year’s group as closer-knit than last year’s, a factor she hopes carries the Lions to another title.
“It’s a pretty young team, we worked together well last year but we were able to incorporate a lot of what we did last year into this year,” Thompson said. “Touch up a couple things and make it run a little smoother. I think this year we’re definitely more excited to play, celebrating each other. Happy before every game, cheering each other on. That’s something we have this year we didn’t have last year.”