Katie Schwarzmann left Century High School in 2009 as the all-time leading goal scorer in Carroll County lacrosse history.
Three years later, she has reached the pinnacle of collegiate lacrosse.
Last week, the junior midfielder from the University of Maryland won the Tewaaraton Award, presented annually to the top women's collegiate player in the nation.
Schwarzmann beat out four other premier college players for the award — Brittany Dashiell of Florida, North Carolina's Becky Lynch, Taylor Thornton of two-time defending national champion Northwestern, and Syracuse's Michelle Tumolo.
"It was an incredible feeling to win," said Schwarzmann, who led Century to three state lacrosse championships in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
The Sykesville native is the third Maryland player to win the Tewaaraton Award, joining current Loyola head coach Jen Adams (2001) and former Century teammate Caitlyn McFadden (2010).
She's also the first player who didn't play for the national champion but still won the top award since Duke's Katie Chrest earned the Tewaaraton in 2006.
Despite being tightly defended by some of the best players in the college game, Schwarzmann was the country's second-leading goal scorer with 72. She scored three or more goals in 17 of Maryland's 23 games, and her 94 points ranked her fifth in the nation.
Schwarzmann led Maryland to a 19-4 record and a third straight Atlantic Coast Conference championship. She tore through several prominent opponents in the postseason, setting an NCAA Tournament record with 11 goals in three games.
Early-round tournament victories over Massachusetts and Loyola vaulted the Terrapins into the Final Four for the fourth consecutive year. The three-time NCAA All-Tournament Team choice scored a team-high three goals in the national semifinals, but Maryland fell to eventual champion Northwestern, 9-7.
Schwarzmann, whose 170 career goals are sixth all-time at Maryland, has been a starter since she arrived at College Park. She earned third-team All-America honors as a freshman, and has been a first-team selection the last two seasons.
She was one of the five Tewaaraton finalists in 2011, and credits her renewed emphasis on defense and leadership skills for making her a better player this spring.
"We lost some good defenders, so we had to work harder on defense," said Schwarzmann, whose older sister, Lauren, played lacrosse at Century and Johns Hopkins. "As a team, we spent a lot of time on draw controls because we knew that possession was going to be the key for us. We also had a lot of freshmen, and I needed to get them acclimated to Maryland lacrosse."
The Terrapins beat Northwestern to win the national title in 2010 — Schwarzmann's freshman year. Maryland lost the 2011 title game to the Wildcats, then fell to Northwestern again in last month's semifinals. Schwarzmann's goal for 2013 is to help the Terrapins take two more steps.
"I would love for us to make it back to the national championship game," she said. "And I'd also like to walk away with four ACC championships."
She will be reunited with Alice Mercer, an incoming Maryland freshman who was in her first season on the Century varsity during Schwarzmann's senior year with the Knights. Mercer recently led Century to its sixth state championship in the last nine years.
"Alice is a great player, and I can't wait to play with her again," Schwarzmann said. "We have another great freshman class coming in, and we all need to work on our own time without the coaches there to continue to get better."
Schwarzmann has many fond memories of her time at Century.
She not only earned the maximum 12 varsity letters, but was a four-year starter for the Knights' soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. She was also one of Century's top students, compiling a 4.25 weighted grade point average while taking a steady stream of advanced placement courses.
Schwarzmann established county records for goals scored in a single season (106 in 2009) and career (307). In the final contest of her senior season, she set a state title-game mark with nine goals in a 25-9 state championship victory over Patterson Mill. At the end of her 2009 season, Schwarzmann became the only Carroll County player in recent memory to earn Metro Player of the Year honors in girls' lacrosse from The Baltimore Sun.
"Winning three state championships at Century prepared me for Maryland," she said. "I was ready for that type of big-game situation. Plus, the run-and-gun offense that we played in high school is also what we do at Maryland.
"Our coaches stress that if you have an opening, you go. That's always worked for me."