Summer vacation is over for Lily Posternak.

The former York High field hockey standout is back on the field, trying to take another step on the USA Field Hockey ladder. Posternak is participating this week in the Young Women’s National Championship, an eight-team tournament held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that could lead to a spot on the U-21 women’s national team.

Posternak, who will be a sophomore at Duke, is looking forward to not only playing again, but learning from some of the top coaches and players in the nation.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for sure,” said Posternak, a two-time selection as Female Athlete of the Year at the Varsity Maine Awards. “This tournament will definitely have an impact in improving my skills.”

Getting an invitation to the YWNC is not easy. College players attend performance training centers run by U.S. Field Hockey and are evaluated for their skills. The best earn an invitation to the tournament. From there, they can be invited to try out for the 2018-19 U-19 or U-21 national teams, depending on their age.

“It’s definitely a big deal,” said Lisa McCoy, USA Field Hockey’s director of futures and international events. “It’s a continuation of our selection process for the college-age athlete. They have to try out for this site, then have to be selected to the squad, then the squad gets narrowed down to a certain number of athletes that are selected from that region to come to this tournament.”

Posternak likes the format of the tournament. The 132 players are divided into eight teams. They will practice on Monday, then play games Tuesday through Friday.

“We’ll have meetings and everything, break down the games and talk about what happened,” she said. “But it’s really old-school, pick-up type games, which I love. Just go out and play.

“It’s a good learning experience, and to do that with a new group of girls is fun.”

Duke has five players at the tournament, thrilling Posternak and Duke Coach Pam Bustin.

“The YWNC provides a unique opportunity for top college athletes to train and compete with, and against, our best collegiate athletes,” said Bustin. “They have access to great coaches from different regions who perhaps teach with a different approach to the game. Working with other players and coaches can really challenge our players to grow and improve.”

Bustin said it could especially be beneficial for Posternak, who played in every game her freshman year at Duke, starting four.

“It is a fantastic arena for her to continue her top-level development,” said Bustin. “She had a great spring at Duke, developing her strength and on-field role. Now she can put her game up against others her age that have been working all spring and take her play to yet another level.”

Posternak, 19, hopes to take everything she learns into the fall and have a bigger role at Duke. She was a three-time Maine Sunday Telegram field hockey player of the year in high school, leading York to three straight undefeated seasons and Class B state titles. She lost only one game during her high school career and finished as the Wildcats’ all-time leading scorer with 88 goals and 57 assists.

While she didn’t score as a freshman at Duke, Posternak wasn’t disappointed with her season.

“I was more than OK with it,” she said. “I was just lucky to be on the field and learning from my coaches and teammates. Every chance to get on the field was so exciting. I was grateful for every minute I earned. I tried my best, and I hope to have more of an impact and a larger role this year.”

Posternak, who will return to Duke to take a summer class when the YWNC ends, is hoping for chance to play on another national team. She has previously been a member of the U.S. U-17 and U-19 teams. A chance to compete on the U-21 team would be very special to her.

“That’s what it’s all for,” said Posternak. “That would be amazing.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH