CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Thursday marked the final practice for the Virginia field hockey team before Friday's NCAA Tournament opener against Delaware.
"Our team has worked very, very hard to get here. And I think that we've all done and made sacrifices," UVA redshirt freshman back Lizzy Shim said following the Cavaliers' practice on the blue turf.
And no one on the team has face a more difficult path to this point than Shim.
She signed with UVA two years ago after a four-time all-state career across town at the Covenant School. But an injury kept Shim off the field last year -- then she was hospitalized this summer with an unrelated medical issue.
"Yeah, she had a rough summer," UVA head coach Michele Madison said. "And to be able to come back from that situation was amazing. One for her life, and another that she got herself back on the field."
Shim was able to laugh when asked on Thursday about her medical setbacks.
"I didn't really have any expectations. I mean, worst came to worst, I wasn't going to be able to walk normally ever again," she said with a smile. "I had just gotten my PICC line out when I came in, right before preseason. So I was really working on like, how to walk correctly again, and trying to get my stride back."
But Shim eventually did work her way back onto the field, making her UVA debut last month at Louisville. She played in five games during the regular season, including a season-best 14-minute stint at Drexel that included her first career shot on goal.
"She's one of those people that, she's always working hard. Before all that happened, her first year, she was always working really hard," UVA senior striker Catesby Willis said. "So I think everyone knew that what we could expect from her was always just to keep coming after it. And she's got the best attitude, too. So it makes it really easy to root for her."
And Shim says her experiences off the field last summer have given her a new perspective about getting back on the turf with her teammates.
"It's awesome. And I don't take anything for granted anymore, because it can be taken away from you very quickly," Shim said. "Any game could be your last game. So I think if you play as hard as you can, and you do everything like it is your last game, it really does make a difference on your attitude and how you play."