The last time Shelby Mercer and Kristen Yanchoris played organized lacrosse together, they helped Century win the Class 3A-2A state championship
That was more than a month ago, and the recent high school graduates are getting ready for their next game. It's set for Friday, at Towson University, in front of what should be a large crowd.
Mercer and Yanchoris will be teammates one last time in the annual Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic, a showcase that features the country's elite players.
The girls senior game is Friday at 5:30 p.m., when the North team battles the South team. A boys senior all-star game follows at 8, and the weekend also includes showcase games for underclassmen, junior college players, and those uncommitted to college.
"I think it's going to be awesome," said Mercer, who is off to Maryland this fall. "I think the fact that most of the players are the best of the best is what's going to make it so cool. In high school, sometimes you have competition and sometimes you don't. I think this Friday game is going to be so intense. I love it. I'm so excited."
Mercer played midfield this spring at Century, where she finished fourth on the Knights with 43 points (31 goals, 12 assists). But she's switching positions for the All-America game, moving to defense just like her sister Alice did in 2012 — she played midfield at Century, switched to defense for her Under Armour experience, and has helped Maryland win back-to-back NCAA Division I national championships.
(The Mercer sisters should be joining forces next spring when the Terrapins go after a third consecutive title.)
And when Mercer takes the field with a slightly different viewpoint, she'll be able to glance over and see a familiar face.
Yanchoris has been a defensive-minded player going back to her rec sports days as a goalie in soccer. People likened Yanchoris to being in a chicken coop, and her nickname was then, and forever more, "Coop."
Mercer said she can't wait to step onto the turf field at Johnny Unitas Stadium, "especially since 'Coop' and I both are going for defense. And we've played with each other before on defense at Century, so we already know how we work together and stuff. So I'm really excited for that."
Mercer and Yanchoris are the only two players from Maryland on the North team, so they'll be facing a host of Marylanders on the South squad. No matter the side, the Carroll players recognize the importance of playing well Friday.
"I think it's going to be really fun, especially going into college and seeing really, really good competition," said Yanchoris, who is headed to Loyola in the fall. "Playing with the best of the best, pretty much, of my class."
Yanchoris, a three-time Times all-county pick, said her Greyhounds coaches have been making sure she's ready and focused. Easy for them to say, with a host of family and friends planning to attend Friday's game, not to mention going up against future college teammates and opponents.
She's relishing the opportunity, and said she can't wait to be teammates with Mercer for the last time.
"Having someone on defense ... I know that she'll have my back and I'll have her back all the time," Yanchoris said. "I think it's just another game, but at the same time it's an all-star game and you want to show your best performance because so many people are going to be there. I just want to go out there and play my best because I know so many people are watching. I want to show everyone that I deserve to be on that field."