Joy Perry signed to play lacrosse at Belmont Abbey College.

EASTON — It’s the place where everything she may be juggling at the time just goes away.

“Like I step on the field and all my problems disappear,” Saints Peter and Paul High senior Joy Perry said of lacrosse.

Well, maybe not all her problems.

There’s still the matters of trying to get past a defender for a quality shot on goal, scooping a bouncing ground ball or winning a draw control, hitting a cutting teammate with just the right pass, and hustling back on defense in time to help discombobulate the opposition’s attack. Perry hopes to have the chance to solve those problems this spring — if the COVID-19 pandemic abates enough for her senior season — and the following four years after signing to play lacrosse at Belmont Abbey College two weeks ago.

“I just knew it was the place for me,” Perry said of the Division II school located in Belmont, North Carolina. “It’s so beautiful there, and the coaches are people that I could be friends with.”

Perry finished her sophomore season with 16 goals, four assists, five ground balls and 13 draw controls. That same year she attended a prospect day at Belmont Abbey, reaching out to the school after the coaching staff watched one of her tournaments with her club team, Dark Horse.

“I think I did good,” Perry said of the 2019 camp. “I definitely could have done better. I was just so nervous that I couldn’t play to the best of my ability. But I think the coaches also realized that because everyone was nervous. I went to breakfast with the coaches the day after and they told me how they felt I did.”

Perry returned for a second prospect day her junior year. One week later she verbally committed to play for Belmont Abbey.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Perry said of playing collegiately. “When I was little I always wanted to play at the University of Florida. But that didn’t happen.”

Perry, who has a 3.8 grade-point average and plans on majoring in pre-med and biology, admitted playing at the Division I level and carrying her projected academic load would have been difficult. But then so is the transition to the next level of play.

“It’s a lot more work for college lacrosse,” said Perry, whose played attack and midfield. “You have to lift weights and everything, and I’ve never done that. That’s going to be challenging.”

Perry played basketball for two years at Sts. Peter and Paul, and this fall helped the Sabres win their first Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Association field hockey championship since 2011.

But lacrosse had always been her favorite sport, one where Sabres head coach Alison McDaniel Beyer thinks Perry can continue to grow.

“She was always open to instruction; specifically to use her left hand,” said Beyer, a 1997 graduate of Sts. Peter and Paul who went on to play at Duquesne University and the under-19 U.S. Lacrosse team. “Joy always went for the challenge and prevailed.

“The first season I noticed obvious progression with her stick skills,” said Beyer, who coached Perry in 2019 before the coronavirus canceled last spring’s season. “With her height (5 feet, 9 inches) I put her in center (midfield) and she wanted to try new positions and do what she could to please me. She went where that would help the team, as opposed to being out there all for herself. I could put her in wherever I wanted her to play and she could get the job done. She played center midfield and I put her at attack and she would do what needed to get done on attack.”

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