In every athlete's career, there is one game or one moment that stands out. It's an individual performance or a team effort to cherish. It's a memory that brings back the spring-in-your-step of youth.
It's the kind of game that others will say, with a note of awe in their voice, "Remember the time when …?"
For Taylor Hensh, this year's Columbia Flier/Howard County Times girls lacrosse Player of the Year, that unforgettable game came in the Class 3A/2A South Section I final this spring.
Marriotts Ridge, Hensh's team, was hosting Century with a berth in the regional final on the line. The losing team's season would be over, and it would be time to turn in the uniforms.
In the win-or-go-home matchup, Marriotts Ridge found itself down, 6-2, with 16 minutes left on the clock.
For the Mustangs, there was no draw control, no ball control, no goals and no momentum.
It was only because of a great effort by the team's defense that Marriotts Ridge was even within hailing distance of Century.
"It was really bad and I didn't want to lose," Hensh said.
After a Marriotts Ridge time out and an exchange of goals, making Century's lead 7-3, the complexion of the game began to change. In the final 15 minutes, Hensh scrapped for the draw control and tallied four goals (and five in the game) and led her team to a thrilling 8-7 comeback victory.
"Pretty much every aspect of my game was on point" in the Century comeback, she said.
Her efforts were not lost on the opposition.
"(Hensh) took over the game. She was scoring goals and she was getting the ball. It didn't matter where the ball was, she was there," said Century coach Becky Groves. "I felt like they had the best player on the field and when you have the best player on the field, you usually win."
To many observers, the 5-foot-3 senior midfielder was often the best player on the field. With Hensh leading the way, by season's end the Mustangs had their third state title in four years.
This spring, she's first-team All-Met (Washington Post) and All-Metro (Baltimore Sun) and she's earned a spot on the Under Armour All-America South team. The US Lacrosse All-Americans have yet to be announced.
Her talent was obvious at an early age. She committed to the University of Maryland as a sophomore. She will be reuniting with several Marriotts Ridge teammates, including three-time Player of the Year Zoe Stukenberg, when she joins the Terrapins this fall.
"Taylor is a pint-sized powerhouse," said Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Brady. "She is the standard of excellence our younger athletes strive to achieve. Athletes of her caliber are rare."
Hensh has speed, agility and the ability to weave through the defense. When she was fouled and awarded an 8-meter shot, she was deadly.
"In most games on 8-meter shots, she was probably 90-98 percent accurate. It was rare if she missed a shot," Brady said.
Hensh scored 87 goals and had 40 assists this season. Her career numbers are 233 goals, 76 assists and 111 draw controls. Throw in two county titles and three state championships in her time at Marriotts Ridge and it's even more impressive.
"Taylor is a true competitor. She's not going to stop until that very last moment," Brady said. "She pushes herself beyond her limits in the off-season, the preseason and in season. …She's the kid who is out there pushing it to the next level all the time.
"Anyone who has played against her knows she is a force to be reckoned with, she is a challenge to restrain and she is the difference maker in the field," Brady said.
Named to the all-county first team are:
Alyssa Arnold, Glenelg Country. Arnold has a sense of the game beyond that of a normal freshman. She is strong, commands the Dragons' attack and moves well around the goal.
If the first look isn't there, she has the ability to go to a second option.
She scored 65 goals and added 27 assists.
"That's the most goals for a freshman since I've been here," said Glenelg Country School coach Paige Walton. "Not one team was able to take her out of her game."
Although double- and triple-teamed, Arnold always seemed to find a way to help the Dragons score. She had a goal or assist in every game the team played and helped the squad to one of its best seasons ever, including a spot in the IAAM B Conference championship game.
Marissa Davey, Marriotts Ridge. For four years, Davey has given the Mustangs a viable scoring threat. If the opponent's defense sagged on to others, she made them pay.
"The kid has no fear," said coach Amanda Brady. "If she has the opportunity to go to goal, she will take it, and she has a pretty wicked shot so most likely the ball will go in the back of the net."
Davey, who will play for UMBC next fall, had 60 goals and 25 assists this season.
Her fearlessness made her valuable on 50/50 balls and on draw control.
She finishes her high school career with 161 goals, 61 assists and 103 draw controls to go along with three state championship plaques.
Alicia Hsieh, Centennial. This season, the Eagles (7-5) improved on their 2013 record, but more importantly they closed the gap on some of the county's top tier teams.
Hsieh, a three-year varsity player, is one of the reasons why.
"For the last two years Alicia has been the leading scorer for us," said coach Rachel Burton. "She's deadly when she is on her game."
Hsieh's playing style and the way she attacks the goal makes it hard for defenders to read and to stop her.
"Alicia has a knack for finding the net," Burton said.
Hsieh, a senior, had 30 goals and six assists this season and will play college lacrosse at Randolph-Macon College.
Jordan Stevens, Mt. Hebron. Stevens is one of the new kids on the block for Mt. Hebron, which technically was rebuilding this year after graduating nine starters. Stevens quickly made herself a valuable member of the team as a sophmore. Her stick work is impressive and she was productive around the crease, recording 29 goals and 13 assists.
"Jordan has a swagger to the way she plays," said coach Trish Derwart.
The University of Florida commit is very eager to improve her game.
"I think with her skill set, she has more to come," Derwart said.
Stevens has been selected for the Baltimore team that will play in the Under Armour All America Classic July 11-13 at Towson University.
Stephanie Asher, Glenelg. Asher, one of two seniors on Glenelg's team, has carried the Gladiators' offense the last two seasons. In spite of drawing the best defenders and being face-guarded in many of her team's big games, Asher scored 40 goals and had 22 assists. She saved some of her most productive games for when Glenelg faced Marriotts Ridge. She had four goals in each of the teams' two meetings.
"Stephanie is a great competitor and a great team leader. I always want the ball in her hands when the game is on the line," said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid.
The Elon signee ended her high school career with 112 goals, 37 assists and 98 draw controls.
Jenna Collins, River Hill. Collins, and her twin, Julia, have been impact players in basketball and lacrosse since they were freshmen.
Jenna took the draw, winning 53 of them, and led the Hawks' offense. Julia was often the recipient of her sister's passes.
"Jenna took on the role to lead her team both mentally and physically," said coach Kelly Rabil. "She played with a target on her back every game and still found a way to get to the net."
Although she drew intense defensive attention, Collins never scored less than two goals a game this year and had as many as eight goals several times. She finished the season with 67 goals, which ups her career number to 196.
"I have never seen a player work so hard both during practice and games," Rabil said.
The Collins twins will play lacrosse for the Naval Academy.
Grayson Corbett, Wilde Lake. For the past four years, Corbett and Wilde Lake lacrosse have been synonymous.
"Grayson has helped turn our program around, which wasn't easy given that she was one of the few offensive threats we had," said coach Davia Procida.
While being tightly-marked, Corbett still managed to score 96 goals this year. She had five games of 10 or more goals and set a new Wilde Lake single game scoring mark (14). She also set a new career scoring record for the county (272 goals) and grabbed 67 draws this year.
"Grayson represents Wilde Lake in a positive way. We will be losing, 14-0, to Marriotts Ridge but instead of asking to be taken out so she doesn't get hurt, she's picking her players up and working just as hard as if the score were 14-13," Procida said.
Corbett has left her legacy at Wilde Lake, but will take her game to Hofstra University next year.
"Grayson's the Player of the Year in our eyes," Procida said.
Jen Giles, Mt. Hebron. Mt. Hebron graduated 11 seniors from its 2013 team. Giles, a junior, elevated her game to fill the void. She's a clutch player with unmatched stamina in the midfield.
"Jen is the first player to recover on defense, as well as the point person for initiating a fast break. Her skill set is equally balanced on the defensive and offensive end," said coach Trish Derwart. "She was a clutch player for us."
Giles dominated the Vikings in all categories, including goals (55), assists (25) and shooting percentage (54 percent).
She was selected for the Baltimore team that will participate in the Under Armour All-America Classic July 11-13.
Chachi Kelehan, Mt. Hebron. "Chachi blew it away this year," said coach Trish Derwart.
Then she explains: Kelehan torn her anterior cruciate ligament her freshman year and spent last year in a physical and mental battle to get back to top form.
"This year was Chachi in full force," Derwart said. "She is one of the most resilient players that I've ever met. She endures the highs and lows of the game better than anyone I've ever seen."
Kelehan took on the challenge of a new position - midfield - and she played like she owned it. The junior became one of the players that Mt. Hebron looked for when the going got tough.
Committed to Old Dominion University, Kelehan had 46 goals and 16 assists this spring.
Lillie Miller, Long Reach. Miller carved her name in the Long Reach record books as a junior this spring. Not only is she one of the few Lightning players to make all-county first team, but she also set a new school record for goals in a season (54).
"Lillie always worked so hard from the beginning of the game to the end - that's the biggest thing about her," said coach Colleen Delaney.
A starter since her freshman year, Miller was invaluable on the draw. She worked on it outside of practice so she would have the best opportunity to control the ball during the game.
"We wouldn't have had a fighting chance in games if not for her and her competitiveness at the draw control," Delaney said.
Miller has verbally committed to Jacksonville University.
Meaghan Quinn, Atholton. Quinn was an impact player for Atholton in the three important areas of the field - on the draw, on offense and on defense. She led the Raiders in goals (47), assists (26), draw controls (42) and finish third in caused turnovers as a sophomore.
"Meaghan creates a lot of turnovers and then creates scoring opportunities for her team. She has all the tools to make her a great player," said coach Crystal Shelley. "She works really, really hard and, in practice, she's never not paying attention and not giving it her all."
Shelley relates a story from the season. Quinn apparently overheard an opponent say, "All you have to do is stop Meaghan and we'll win the game."
Quinn's response to her teammate was, "Every single person on the team can score and is a great player. None of you should listen to what was said."
"That comment shows a lot of leadership and willingness to be part of the team," Shelley said.
Quinn has verbally committed to Loyola University Maryland.
Meghan Doherty, Mt. Hebron. A one-time midfielder, Doherty has become a very solid defender. She's a natural athlete with the ability to anticipate and also has the defensive instincts of the basketball player that she is.
"Meghan would come up with big plays and good interceptions. She has a great read on things," said coach Trish Derwart. "She's very solid around the draw circle and got the draw control when we needed it."
The junior had 31 draw controls this season.
Doherty has verbally committed to the University of Maryland and has been chosen for the Baltimore team that will play in the Under Armour All America Classic in July.
Tianna Wallpher, Mt. Hebron. Always assigned the task of marking the opponent's top scorer, Wallpher stops at nothing to get the job done.
"T has a tremendous knowledge of the game, is a great communicator and can slide and cover space as well as anyone," said coach Trish Derwart. "She has cemented her reputation as an elite defender."
Wallpher only gave up one goal to a player she was marking this season and that was because she fell.
Wallpher has talent for making interceptions and taking charges. She had 15 of each this year as a senior.
She set the school and county record for charges taken in a career (48).
She has been selected to play in the Senior Under Armour All-America game.
"T's the kind of kid you would want 20 of on your team," Derwart said.
Wallpher will play for UMBC next year.
Alexis Zadjura, Marriotts Ridge. A defensive midfielder and a factor in her team's transition game, Zadjura also found scoring opportunities. She had 13 goals and 11 assists for the state-champion Mustang team.
"Defensively, she is the one we would want going against the other team's best attacker. Her 1v1 defensive position is textbook and her ability to read the play is great," said coach Amanda Brady. "Also, Alexis is able to make game-changing plays."
Zadjura was a valuable asset on the draw circle. "Alexis has some ups," Brady said. "That kid can jump and she's up for the challenge of going for 50/50 balls."
Zadjura will play for Elon next year.
Megan Taylor, Glenelg. "Megan is the best high school goalkeeper I have ever seen and I have been coaching for 27 years," said Glenelg coach Ginger Kincaid.
Taylor is a mobile goalkeeper with great stick skills, and she is not afraid to leave the goal circle for an interception or a ground ball.
"Because of Megan's strength in the goal cage, we have been able to be very creative with our defense," Kincaid said. "We were able to extend out, pressure out and take more risk than we normally would.
"This year we were very young and Megan (115 saves) kept us in many games that we probably should not have been in."
Taylor, a junior, was selected for the Baltimore team that will play in the Under Armour All-America Classic this July.
A three-sport standout, she has chosen lacrosse as her main sport and as a sophomore she verbally committed to play for the University of Maryland.