Girls Soccer Player of the Year

Community School's Lily Fitzgerald is the Times-News girls soccer player of the year. Photo taken Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, in Twin Falls.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Low roller. Upper-ninety. Chip shot.

You name a way to score, and Lily Fitzgerald has probably pulled it off.

The forward for the Community School girls soccer team broke the school’s scoring record this past fall when she passed the 115-goal mark, ending the season with 123 career goals.

But she’s not finished yet. She still has another year left with the Cutthroats.

Breaking records is usually cause for celebration for a player and his or her family. In Fitzgerald’s case, it’s a bit more complicated. The former scoring record was held by her brother, Jay, who netted his 115th goal in 2015.

“He gave me a little bit of trouble about it, but he was mostly encouraging,” she said. “He didn’t want to talk about it much, though.”

Add this to the fact that Fitzgerald’s sister, Jordan, also holds the career assists record at Community School, and it’s clear the Fitzgeralds are a family of Sun Valley soccer stars.

Few games passed between Fitzgerald breaking the girls scoring record (105, set by Hannah Dies) and the overall scoring record. The former happened during a hat-trick performance on Oct. 2 against Wendell; the latter on Oct. 10, again versus Wendell, in a five-goal performance.

Fitzgerald doesn’t really keep up with her stats, though.

“Before the Wood River game, I knew I was at 99 (goals), but otherwise I don’t really pay attention to my stats that much,” she said. “Like I can’t even tell you how many goals I scored last year.”

Answer: 51.

Community School head coach Kelly Feldman said Fitzgerald’s goal count could be deceptive if you don’t know her.

“I think that people see that and think the player has to be selfish,” Feldman said, “but she’s not that way at all. She plays for her team. She’s the first one to say that she wouldn’t have had that season without the support of the team.”

In fact, Fitzgerald said that a lot of her success around the net came from great pressure at the other end.

“We had a really strong defensive line this year, especially with Anik Zarkos and Eliza Marks,” she said. “They definitely held it down back there and helped our whole team bring the ball back up to the forwards.”

Fitzgerald has been playing soccer since she was 5, when her mom coached her and Times-News boys soccer player of the year Mario Macias, now a junior at Wood River. Fitzgerald traveled with Sawtooth United FC until her freshman year, when she got too busy with her other passion: skiing.

True to her Sun Valley roots, Fitzgerald spends a lot of time on the slopes, another place where she excels athletically.

For the past two years, Fitzgerald has won the women’s Bryce Astle Award, the award given to the best alpine skiier in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Intermountain Alpine Division, which hosts teams from Idaho, Utah and Wyoming.

Last year, she swept all three events she skiied in — the women’s slalom, giant slalom and super G events — in the Intermountain Cup, and this year, she’s adding downhill skiing to her resume.

But it won’t be easy as she moves from U16 to U19.

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“I’m now the youngest racer in all of my races, so the main goal is to lower my race points,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ll worry about trophies after that.”

Skiing eats up a lot of her free time, especially in summer and fall, when she spends six days a week trying to cram both sports into her schedule. Still, she said, none of those stresses affect her on the pitch.

“Skiing requires a lot more training for me, but when I’m playing soccer, I’m focused on soccer,” Fitzgerald said.

Heading into next soccer season, Fitzgerald has the assist record in the back of her mind after she tallied more assists in her junior season than before, she said. But her main focus is being a vocal, experienced leader for the Cutthroats.

“Hopefully I can help get my team to a spot where we can win state,” she said.

Feldman said that shouldn’t be a tough adjustment for her top scorer.

“She has been (a leader) since her freshman year,” Feldman said. “She’s so competitive, she’s fiercely driven and she’s just able to motivate and inspire her teammates with her own drive. Instead of that being overwhelming, it manages to be inspiring.”

One example came in the 2017 4A state tournament. While suffering from a sports hernia, Fitzgerald managed to score a goal against Sugar-Salem in the consolation semifinals.

“The game ended up going to overtime, and she said, ‘Put me in and I’ll score,’” Feldman said. “And I’m thinking, ‘You can barely move right now.’ But we put her in, and she scored to win it.”

Feldman said that story paints the picture of the kind of competitor Fitzgerald is and why she’s able to accomplish all she has, breaking records along the way.

“You have so many kids who play because it’s fun and they want to be out there, which is great, but she’s out there to compete and win,” Feldman said. “It’s just a different mentality.”

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