Just like that, the collegiate field hockey career at Duke University is at the halfway point for Lily Posternak.
Posternak, who led the York High School field hockey team to three state championships in her four years, saw her second season with the third-ranked Blue Devils come to an abrupt end on Sunday, Nov. 11, in a 1-0, double-overtime loss to Wake Forest in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I still can’t believe this season is over, it’s crazy,” Posternak, a sophomore midfielder with the Blue Devils, said. “It’s not the way we wanted it to end. This week has been so strange not waking up for practice in the morning and seeing the team every day.”
Duke ended the season with a record of 16-6 and was 5-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I feel for my seniors because they are so awesome and I know we deserve to be playing in the Final Four,” Posternak said. “It’s disappointing because I know we are such a great team and we worked so hard this entire season. I think everyone is depressed right now.”
It was a season of growth for Posternak. She played in all 22 games this season, starting 12, compared to just four starts in 21 games last year as a freshman.
“Having that first year under my belt was great coming into this season; it helped me find my role and place on the team this year a little easier,” Posternak said. “You still need to go out on the field and prove yourself every day to your teammates and coaches that you deserve to be here and that you are capable of playing here.”
Posternak led York to a 77-1 record and three Class B state championships in her four years and left as the program’s leader in goals (86) and assists (54).
She didn’t score any points her freshman season at Duke and had one goal and three assists this season. Her only goal came in a 4-3 loss to Maryland back in September. She had single assists against Penn State, St. Joseph’s and Old Dominion.
“I really didn’t have any expectations coming (to Duke) in regards to points. Those stats really don’t matter to me,” Posternak said. “All of these girls were the best where they are from. Every day I just show up and try my best and leave it all out on the field. That’s all I can really hope to do.”
When Posternak committed to Duke, she believed the balance of academics and athletics at the Division I school in Durham, North Carolina, would be a natural fit. Two years later, those initial thoughts are now truths.
“I love it here,” she said. “Field hockey, school and the environment is awesome. I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls as teammates. I am very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity to play at Duke.”
The hardest adjustment for Posternak has been finding time to do all of her coursework with the demands of being a student-athlete at a top college where her athletic commitments are as much as her academic ones.
“Finding that balance has been challenging,” she said. “I was a good student at York but this has been a challenge. We had so much traveling this season and we weren’t home that much, and that made it difficult with classes. You have to find that balance and find time to do work on a 12-hour bus ride to Syracuse, or a six-hour trip to Ohio. Sometimes it’s hard to focus (on school) when you are on the road and you know you have a big game coming up. You have meetings and all this you have to do, and the last thing you want to do is sit down and write an essay. You just have to find that time management and find a balance to get it all done.”
With the upcoming graduation of five seniors from this year’s team, Posternak is up for the challenge of more responsibilities next season.
“I am ready for it and I think I can handle it,” she said. “I think it will be an honor to be given a larger role on the team. It’s something I’ll be working on in the offseason. I’d love to have a larger presence on the field next year.”
Posternak said her parents were there for every single one of her games this season.
“That was awesome,” she said. “I can always count on my parents. … I am so thankful for their support and I love when they come down here.”
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