WOODSTOCK -- Already established as one of the best high school lacrosse players in the country, Etowah’s Justin Sherrer wanted to make a statement in his senior year.
Sherrer came into the season looking to defend his all-American, all-state and State Defensive Player of the Year honors, and while he met all those goals, his main focus was on team success.
“We came into a new area,” Sherrer said. “Our first goals were to go undefeated in the county and area. We did well with that. We played well when we had to, and that’s what mattered. We matched the playoff win record, so I was just proud of the way our team played.”
With those honors under his belt, Sherrer, the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year, knew he was playing with a target on his back.
Other players around the state knew who he was, and while they consistently tried to throw him off his game, Sherrer just used the extra attention as extra motivation.
“It doesn’t really affect my game,” he said. “When you’re good, they’ll come at you. That’s just part of the game. You can’t let it faze you. You have to let it motivate you. That’s what I worked on this year. When you play teams that are lower-caliber, they’ll really come after you, but you have to find a way to play through it.”
In fact, that style of play may have only helped Sherrer in his defensive position.
A starting safety on Etowah’s football team, Sherrer considered pursuing a college football career until his junior year. While he eventually settled on lacrosse, he brings a football mentality to the game.
“I play fast and hard,” Sherrer said. “Physicality is a big part of my game. Football has really helped that. Playing two sports has helped me in the weight room and on the field.”
While he made his name on the defensive side of the field, Sherrer was also a threat on the offensive end this season. He scooped up 85 groundballs and forced 40 turnovers on the season, but he was also dangerous coming forward with 10 goals and 12 assists on the attack.
“At the end of the day, I like defense, but it’s fun to score some goals on offense,” Sherrer said. “We had a few guys this year who could play both sides. It made us versatile. It’s something a lot of teams can’t do.”
Sherrer had more freedom to play how he wanted this season, too.
Not only was he one of the seniors on the team, but the nation’s No. 41-ranked recruit also had his future secured after decommitting from Villanova and committing to Maryland in the fall.
“A couple years ago, I was worried about impressing college coaches and being seen,” Sherrer said. “This year, it was closed out, and I didn’t have to worry about it. It was a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Before he heads off to join one of the NCAA’s most successful lacrosse programs, Sherrer is helping coach the younger teams with the Thunder LBC lacrosse club.
Sherrer will not have any major tournaments or showcases to play in this offseason, but he said he plans on playing as much as he can in an attempt to crack one of the nation’s most talented rotations next season at Maryland.
“This summer, we have our workout plan,” Sherrer said. “We’ve been doing it every day. I’ve been practicing pretty much every day to stay in shape and stay in the game. It all depends on when I get up there. I’d like to say I’ll play, but nothing is handed to you. I just want to be the best player and student I can be up there.”