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College Lacrosse

Liz Hogan playing with joy as openly gay goalkeeper for U.S. women’s lacrosse national team

The twins’ connection is strong within the Hogan family.

Allyson Hogan, a former attacker for the Rochester women’s lacrosse team, married a man whose twin brother married a woman who has a twin sister.

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Liz Hogan, Allyson’s sister and a goalkeeper for the U.S. women’s national lacrosse team, did something similar. She married Liz Schaeffer, a former goalkeeper at Southern California, and their mothers share the same first name, Deb.

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“We’re like, ‘Well, this is about as close as we can get to being twins,’” quipped Liz Hogan, who celebrated one year of marriage to Schaeffer last month.

Liz Hogan, center, is a goalkeeper for the U.S. women's lacrosse national team. After missing the cut for the 2013 and 2017 national teams, Hogan is the projected starter for the current squad that opens its defense of the last three world championships on Wednesday at Towson University against two-time runner-up Canada.

Hogan is seeking another reason to rejoice. She and her teammates will take center stage at the 2022 Women’s World Lacrosse Championships. The U.S. team, which has captured the last three world titles and eight of 10 overall, opens play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Towson University’s Johnny Unitas Stadium against Canada, the runner-up in the last two tournaments.

Hogan, one of two goalies on the 18-player roster (North Carolina’s Caylee Waters is the other) and Wednesday’s expected starter, figures to be a critical figure in the Americans’ bid to extend their run to four in a row.

“I think the goalies’ play will be incredibly important, especially during the pool play,” said coach Jenny Levy, a Roland Park graduate who guided North Carolina to its third NCAA Division I crown on May 29 at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood Field. “Both goalies have the ability and are great ball stoppers. That will give us extra possessions, it will give us opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net on the other end, and we’ll need that as we continue to develop as a team.”

Lacrosse has been a central part of Hogan’s life. She first played as a second grader on a coed youth team in Rochester, New York, where she grew up. When she had to shift to girls lacrosse in the sixth grade, Hogan instead chose softball.

“In my mind, I was like, ‘I don’t want to play that sport when there’s no contact,’” she said. “So for whatever reason in my mind, softball was the better option of the two.”

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But in her freshman year of high school, Hogan returned to lacrosse after feeling unfulfilled by softball and to play with her sister, Allyson. Liz Hogan developed into a highly sought recruit who selected Syracuse over Cornell, Louisville and William & Mary.

Hogan said she can’t pinpoint the moment she knew she was gay. She said she simply remembers feeling so at an early age.

“I think I always knew it as a kid and just never really understood it,” said Hogan, who turns 33 on July 31. “You just felt different. I was just like, ‘Oh, I’m not as crazy into boys like all my friends are.’ For me, it was definitely a longer process in terms of coming out to my family and all that. I think the realization to actually live out my life that I probably was meant to live out took a little bit longer than usual.”

After a stellar career with the Orange during which she was a four-year starter and left as the program’s all-time leader in saves, Hogan graduated from Syracuse in 2011 with a bachelor’s in health and exercise science. She said her teammates and friends knew of her sexual orientation, as did her sister. “She was like, ‘Yeah, I always knew.’ I was like, ‘Well, I’m glad we had that chat,’” Hogan joked.

By her mid-20s, Hogan said she made sure she was living on her own and financially independent before coming out to her parents and extended family members in anticipation of a backlash. Their reactions varied.

“Some family members struggled with it, some family members were super cool with it,” she said. “And at the end of the day, regardless of their reactions, it really felt like there was a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I could finally be who I knew myself to be, but that idea of having to keep it to yourself and keep it private is really detrimental to yourself as a person. I was like, ‘Whether you accept it or not doesn’t really matter.’ Now I had this freedom to ultimately live how I wanted to live.”

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After growing up without gay athletes to cite as role models, U.S. women's national team goalkeeper Liz Hogan said stars such as Megan Rapino (soccer), Sue Bird (basketball) and Carl Nassib (football) are inspiring the next generation of LGBTQ athletes. She said she wants to serve in a similar role for those watching her play lacrosse.

For the past six years, Hogan has been teaching physical education for grades four through eight at a Catholic school in the San Francisco area. She said her employers have been supportive of her.

“One of their pillars is to love everyone and to be open to the world, and they’ve been very accepting,” she said. “I went from super nervous and wondering, ‘Is this going to be a good fit?’ to really looking at the Catholic religion a little differently and seeing it from a different light from what you might see on the news.”

After growing up without gay athletes to cite as role models, Hogan said stars such as Megan Rapinoe (soccer), Sue Bird (basketball) and Carl Nassib (football) are inspiring the next generation of LGBTQ athletes. She said she wants to serve in a similar role for those watching her play lacrosse.

“Especially with this platform of playing lacrosse at this high level, whether you think you’re a role model or not, you are because there are always going to be kids who look up to you,” she said. “I just hope they can look up and see that it’s not only OK to play this game and play at the highest level of your sport, but also still have that joy and still be happy and still get everything out of life that you would if you were straight.”

Prefacing her assessment by noting that she did not know Hogan personally until recently, Levy said she has noticed Hogan’s maturation as a goalie and woman.

“I just think Liz is mature, she’s a professional, and she’s really happy on the field and off the field,” Levy said. “I think she’s owning her power. I know that sounds kind of funny, but she is just so athletic and so talented, and finally, she’s put it all together.”

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After being relegated to the training roster of the 2013 and 2017 American squads, Hogan is eager for her chance to contribute to this year’s team. She noted she has been aiming for this opportunity since she tried out for the 2009 squad.

“It’s almost like a sense of relief,” she said. “It’s kind of like, ‘You did it. Now is the time to enjoy it.’ So I’ve tried to take that pressure off of myself. My skill has taken me where I am, and I’m just trusting in that to go out there and do my best and put a smile on my face.”

2022 Women’s Lacrosse World Championships

UNITED STATES VS. CANADA

At Towson University

Wednesday, 7 p.m.

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TV: ESPN2


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