The first time Lizl Gericke made the Virginia AAA tournament she didn't think it was such a big deal. The W.T. Woodson senior midfielder was a sophomore on the Cavaliers' team that won the state title in 2003, her first year in the United States. Gericke's father had taken a job at the World Bank and moved the family from Namibia, on the southwestern coast of Africa, where field hockey is a big deal.
"My first year, people were talking about winning states and things like that, like it was something really important, but I had no idea," Gericke said. "I didn't really understand what was going on then, though. Now, I absolutely have a bigger appreciation for it."
She is certainly playing that way.
Even though W.T. Woodson's bid for a fourth straight Northern Region championship fell short last week against Marshall, Gericke scored a goal in all four of the Cavaliers' region playoff games, including the game-winners against West Springfield and Annandale. W.T. Woodson (19-2-1) plays a state quarterfinal tonight against Central Region champion James River at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Lizl's sister, Louise, a junior goalie, has also made her presence felt, even though initially she wasn't sure about playing. Lizl e-mailed Coach Andy Muir upon her arrival in the country to find a tryout date. But Louise, who like her sister started playing the sport in third grade, didn't go out for the team until she attended the Cavaliers' first scrimmage and noticed the junior varsity team didn't have a goalie.
This year, Louise has played one half of each game, splitting time with senior Janelle Barth, a Duke recruit. The two players' unique arrangement -- they decide, without input from Muir, who will play when -- has not hurt either's performance. Barth earned Liberty District player of the year honors, and Louise turned away a penalty shot in the first five minutes of W.T. Woodson's semifinal win over Annandale.
"Janelle got me to where I am at, to this level of hockey," Louise said. "I don't get a lot of recognition, but I'm fine with that because I just love playing."
Muir has been pleased with the way the Gerickes have developed on the field.
"Part of the adjustment for them was a social change," he said. "But it's so easy to see how much confidence they've gained. Lizl is a captain now and Louise determines when she plays pretty much on her own. To me, that's great examples of confidence."