Bringing out the best in Dulaney soccer player Aimee Vaughan was just a matter of surrounding her with the area's best players on an everyday basis.
Vaughan, a junior forward for the No. 4 Lions (10-1, 9-0), is one of the metro area's leading scorers with 23 goals and eight assists.
She has been playing soccer year-round for almost three years and said her success is because of her constant play.
"[In high school] you really can't get the experience of playing against other whole teams," Vaughan said. "You can learn different things from certain players, and I've had a lot of good coaches who taught me a lot."
She began playing her freshman year for the Gunpowder Falls junior team, and she now is in her first season with the under-19 traveling team Columbia Crusaders.
"When surrounded by top players, you are forced to do two things," said Crusaders coach Roy Andersch, who has worked with Vaughan since the summer. "You are forced to bring your game to that level or stay down at that level where you don't stay on the team very long."
Andersch said Vaughan was one of those players who elevated her level of play to that of her teammates and the competition.
"It took her a few games to convince herself she belonged at that level," Andersch said. "She's got a lot of natural ability, and she's very fast."
"Her skills, speed and the sense of where she is on the field and knowing where her teammates are all contribute to her success," Dulaney coach Cathy Schmidt said. "And she can put the ball in the goal."
Vaughan has done just that this season as she scored six goals, a personal best, against Baltimore County 4A-3A opponent Lansdowne last week in the Lions' 9-1 win over the Vikings.
"I didn't know how many I had until I came off the field," Vaughan said. "But, I think everybody is capable of scoring as many as they want."
In Monday's 16-1 handling of Baltimore County 4A-3A Division opponent Eastern-Vo Tech, Vaughan had a hat trick and three assists.
"Part of the success of the team and the success of Aimee is that both her and the team work together well," Schmidt said. "She spends an awful lot of time playing with other teams, and she is very serious about her soccer."
Vaughan began taking her soccer seriously when she joined the Gunpowder Falls team, which played year-round. At the time, she was one of the younger members who took her lumps competing with older and more physical players.
"That showed me what it was like getting beat on," Vaughan said. "It's a much more physical game, and they call it more like a guys' game."
But Vaughan insists that sticking out the rougher club play was worth it.
"I just had a ball playing, and I'd do it all again," Vaughan said. "I've met a lot of great people and made some great friends."