.. Liz Fries (South Carroll) and her highly regarded Wake Forest field hockey teammates have taken some unexpected early-season hits, losing two of their first three games.
Those setbacks would be a little unsettling to most teams, but Fries, a junior starting center back, says the Deacons still have their sights set on a national championship. After all, Wake Forest has been to the final four five consecutive seasons, winning three straight national titles before losing to Duke in the semifinals in 2005 and falling to Maryland, 1-0, last season in the championship game.
"Of course, everyone's goal, and it's my goal also, is to win a national championship," Fries said.
Both of the Deacons' defeats in last year's 22-2 run to the title game came against Maryland. However, Fries said she loved the atmosphere surrounding those games. They travel to College Park on Sept. 22.
"It's exciting because I'd grown up playing at Maryland and on the field," said Fries, who led the Cavaliers to the Class 3A state championship as a sophomore. "Just to go back representing Wake is special. It's intense when I go home."
Fries said things are different at Wake Forest this season because "we're a very young team. It's a different kind of spirit. We have a lot of energy and quickness and stuff like that. We've been working all preseason in knowledge of the game."
This season, Fries moved into the starting lineup for a team that was initially ranked No. 2 in the nation.
"It's a lot of hard work, but every effort is so worth it to get on that field and play for each one of my teammates," she said. "Everyone gets their time to shine, and now that I've come into my own; this is my year."
Fries has taken three shots this season, two of them on goal, without scoring. But her big moment came last season when she scored her only college goal against Davidson in a 10-1 rout.
Fries said she hit the "drag flick" shot so hard it went in the cage and bounced out, causing her to think for a split-second that she hadn't scored.
"I told my teammates to `play it,' " she said. "I thought it had hit someone's stick and came out of the goal, and they said, `Oh, you just scored.' "
Joseph kicks up
Sophomore forward Malcolm Joseph (River Hill) is being counted on to have an outstanding season for the Richmond soccer team in the Atlantic 10 Conference after being chosen the team's Most Improved Player last season.
Joseph played in eight of the team's last 10 games last season, and has played in one game this season for the Spiders (1-1). Joseph was a second-team All-Howard County selection at River Hill.
Richmond lost to Rhode Island, 1-0, last season in the Atlantic 10 semifinals, and finished 10-8-4.
Sharp serves aces
George Washington sophomore middle hitter Stephanie Sharp (Atholton) has been an outstanding server for the Colonials. She has four aces this season while starting one match. Last season she had 12 aces, 15 digs and six blocks. Sharp was a second-team All-Metro choice by The Sun while playing for Atholton.
Sophomore midfielder Sarah Palmer (Friends) is the lone goal-scorer among the returning midfielders for the William Smith College field hockey team, which is coming off an 18-4 season.
Palmer scored the game-winner last season in a key 3-2 victory over Union College, and is part of a gifted but untested midfield.
Contact Bill Free by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 410-833-5349.