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Carroll County Times
Carroll County High School Sports

Varsity Q&A: South Carroll field hockey goalie Lily Sheaffer getting comfortable in second season at position

High school teams across Maryland officially started preseason practices Wednesday, giving birth to a new set of championship dreams.

The South Carroll field hockey team, coming off an 8-6 season and 2-4 county mark, is one team filled with optimism that a jump toward a county title lies ahead.

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A key to that will be the play of senior goalie Lily Sheaffer. She was new to the position — and sport — last year, but is ready for a standout second year anchoring the Cavaliers’ defense.

Sheaffer recently spoke to the Carroll County Times about her team and her career in the cage (questions and answers have been edited for clarity):

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With practices underway, what’s been the mood so for?

It’s definitely been upbeat, we’re excited to get going.

How has the team come together so far?

We have a lot of incoming freshmen, so we really want to show them how the team works, how we build relationships within the team. We also have a lot of juniors coming up to varsity and we really all want to come together as a team and go as far as we can.

Did you do any work together earlier in the summer?

There’s been conditioning almost every week, stick skills and we had a camp going on.

Have you seen anything through the summer that leads you to believe this could be a special season?

The more we play together, the more we can see and get the feel for the team. We communicate a lot better. We can get a feel of how everybody plays and what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and how we can build those up. ... As the conditioning went on, we all got more in shape, and as the stick skills and camp went on, we built our team.

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Who do you see as some of the top teams in the county this year and where does South Carroll fit in?

Definitely Liberty has always been a challenge for us and we’ve always strived to beat them. It’s also because one of their coaches is a teacher of ours so we’ve always had that match against him. Also Century, we really want to be as good as we can and see how we fare as the season goes on.

How’d you end up as a goalie?

Junior year, tryouts had already commenced, practices were starting. I got a call from a friend of mine saying, ‘We don’t have a goalie. Do you want to do it?’ I said, ‘I got nothing going on, so sure, I guess.’ This is my second season now, so, yeah it was kind of out of the blue. But I’ve been working at it ever since.

So then tell me about last year and how’d it go getting thrust into it.

It was interesting, to say the least. I had to learn all the rules of field hockey; I’ve never watched a field hockey game before that. Working into it, it definitely made me a stronger team player and gave me a lot of respect for the sport. It really helped my reflex times. Just being in the goal, I feel, it’s overwhelming, but it’s an adrenaline rush that I love, because you’re the last line of defense and it gets your heart rate going.

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What was your reaction your first game, first time in goal and another team is just firing shots at you? What was going through your head?

I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, get me out of here.’ I was so scared. We played, I think it was Glenelg. And they’re a 4A county, they’re insane. They have amazing drives. We had a heat advisory, it was 90 degrees outside, it was definitely a wake-up call. It definitely showed me what I had to work on, what I still need to work on honestly, and it showed me how games actually went. It was a really good game because, even though I got scored on a lot, it was my first game, it was a scrimmage, it showed me the defense still came up to me and they supported me throughout the entire game no matter how it went.

In your second year, how much more comfortable are you?

I’m way more comfortable. Before, when the offense was right on me, I’d be scared to touch them, even though they were in my way. Now I push them out of the way. I’ve definitely grown into being a goalie and being that aggressive line of defense.

Who’s been the most responsible for helping you out?

Our coach [Kayla Holston] was a goalie when she played, so she really knows how to help me in all those areas. Kayla is a huge help and I love her. She shows me how to do it and pushes me and makes me better.

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How do you and the defense communicate during a game when an offense is coming down at you?

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At first, I can tell the defense where they need to be or what they need to be doing. When they’re coming down I can say, ‘Hey, you have to go to the right. Hey, watch that person coming up. Someone go get ball.’ And they can tell me, I can’t always keep my head on a swivel even though I do try, ‘Hey Lily, there’s someone behind you. Watch your left; watch your right.’ Wherever the ball is and wherever people are and who’s not marked, they help me out finding everybody and how to best defend it.

OK, so I want to get to know the team and your teammates a bit. Which of your teammates do you think will make the best coach some day?

Lainey Rogers. She just tore her ACL, which is heartbreaking, but she’s already growing into that role because she can’t play. If she does do it, she’ll be a great coach.

Who would you least want to cook the team dinner?

This is hard, none of us really cook. All the parents cook for us. A lot of them I don’t think I’d trust near a stove.

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Who’s the one teammate you feel is your go-to when you need a pep talk or when you’re feeling a bit down?

Definitely Caroline Laur. If I need anything, I always go to her. She’s always there to give me a hug. We have pictures of us after every game hugging. She’s always telling me to keep going, keep pushing.


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