Sarah Geatz remembers her first game as a junior varsity goalie for Atholton's field hockey team as if it happened yesterday. The Raiders lost, 5-0.
"I took that very personally," Geatz said.
Did she cry after the game?
"Oh my goodness, yes," she said.
Now a senior, nothing has changed, except for the fact that Geatz doesn't lose 5-0 games. She still takes the game personally, and still crys after a defeat.
A little emotional?
"You haven't noticed," said Atholton sweeper Rachel McQueeney. "She really cares about playing well and doing her best. She really gets upset when a goal is scored. She's very involved and really cares a lot. That's why she's so emotional."
She also is a very good goalie.
Geatz, a first-team All-County selection last year, has allowed just five goals this season and made 112 saves. Her play helped the Raiders (8-4-1 overall, 5-1-1 league) to their first county title -- they shared it with Centennial -- since 1980.
The regional playoffs begin today for county teams, and Atholton will play host to Howard at 4 o'clock. The Raiders, who lost in the class 2A regional final last year and are now in class 3A, defeated the Lions 10 days ago, 2-1.
"I think we can go real far," Geatz said of her team's playoffs hopes. "We just have to be emotionally ready and pumped up to win."
Geatz always is ready to win.
"I like to win, but it doesn't always happen," she said. "I take all losses hard. I don't like being so emotional, but I am. I always feel if I could have just stuck my foot out, maybe we wouldn't have lost. My coach says it has to go through 10 people first, but it never helps."
What makes Geatz an outstanding goalie, according to coach Carol Stevens, is her desire, her skill level and a relentless work ethic.
"Her desire to win and her desire to be better every day she gets out on the field," said Stevens. "She's a very good kid. She'll do the best for you all the time."
What does Geatz think is her main attribute?
"My desire to keep the ball out of the goal," she said. "I have that drive."
She admits that luck has a little to do with success, especially when there is a group of players in front of the goal all swinging at the ball.
"Sometimes I'm clueless [to where the ball is]," Geatz said. "Usually, it's under the mass of sticks. I line myself out with the sticks so if it does come out, I'm there.
"Sometimes I'm amazed. The ball comes out and I'm there. I really don't have time to think."
But Geatz does think a lot about the game and how she can better herself. She said her skills have improved thanks to watching videotapes of her games -- her mother tapes them -- and participating in the Futures Program from January through May.
"I always feel I can do better," Geatz said. "I'm always willing to learn new things. Right now I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing."
A couple of friends encouraged Geatz to be a goalie in her freshman year and she liked the idea.
"I didn't want to wear a mouthpiece because they gag me," said Geatz, who wears a mask instead. "It looked like fun. I knew I wanted to play defense."
Geatz's decision has worked out well for her and the Raiders. A good student, she plans to play in college and is interested in Delaware, Providence and Maryland.
"I think about field hockey year round," said Geatz, who has an attacking style of play. "I truly love it. If I don't play it for awhile I get depressed."