Oak Ridge grad a part of history at USC

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Liz Shaeffer’s collegiate athletic experience isn’t like most freshmen.

Most athletes in their first year of collegiate sports enter an established program and see limited playing time. Shaeffer, however, is a member of USC’s women’s lacrosse team, which is embarking on its inaugural season.

On Feb. 9 the team played the first game in their history at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum against top-ranked and two-time defending NCAA champion Northwestern. Shaeffer, one of 17 true freshmen on a roster of 26 players, started in goal and played the entire game. The Trojans lost, 18-5, but it didn’t matter. Playing in front of nearly 3,000 wild and crazy fans and being part of the program’s first game was a historical and exciting moment.

“It was amazing,” said Shaeffer, who graduated from Oak Ridge last spring and earned a scholarship to play at USC. “There were 3,000 people there cheering their heads off. Ninety-nine percent of them probably didn’t know anything about lacrosse, but they were there supporting us.”

Despite losing by 13 goals and being outshot 47-9, the Trojans felt they played Northwestern tough, as did Shaeffer, who made 18 saves.

“We wanted to leave it all on the field and do whatever we could,” said Shaeffer, who said she was more excited than nervous before the game. “We were all really happy after the game. No heads were hanging. We knew we gave it our all.”

The Trojans turned around the following day and played another tough opponent, the University of Massachusetts, ranked 14th in the nation. The Trojans lost again, this time 18-9, but Shaffer said the team continued to build and improve upon the things they did well the previous day.

On Friday the Trojans earned their first win, defeating Presbyterian College, 24-4. Shaeffer, who turns 19 Feb. 28, only faced six shots and stopped three.

“It was great to get that first win in the books,” Shaeffer said. “It gives us more drive to prepare for the next one.”

The first year of USC women’s lacrosse is under way. While the team doesn’t have high expectations this season, the future is certainly bright with such a young group of talented players such as Shaeffer.

“We want to keep improving and fully commit to the program and show what we’re capable of doing,” Shaeffer said.