North Carroll didn't exactly overwhelm anybody last night in its much-anticipated 1993 field hockey debut.
But the Panthers did spoil the season opener for Liberty, knocking off the Lions, 1-0, on a second-half goal by Christina Carroll at North Carroll.
North Carroll, the preseason favorite to win the county championship this season, dominated play most of the game but couldn't score until Carroll found herself in the right place at the right time with 13 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.
Carroll was standing in front of the cage when Laura Kenny's shot off a penalty corner came bouncing through a crowd of players, hit the goal and bounced back to Carroll.
She sent the ball into the left corner of the goal to break up a scoreless duel, and the 1-0 edge held up despite a late Liberty surge.
"I was just there," said Carroll. "And I tipped the ball into the net. We work on that play a lot."
Fifteen seconds before Carroll scored the only goal of the game, the Panthers had the ball in front of the goal and couldn't get it in the cage.
That play was typical of most of the evening for North Carroll and it looked as if an overtime might be needed to settle this one.
"We did everything right but put the ball in the goal," said North Carroll coach Denean Powelson, the All-Metro Coach of the Year last season. "It's a win and I'll take it. Give Liberty credit for playing a good game. They picked us up all over the field. We're still learning to play together. We have a young defense but they played well. You can't ask for more than a shutout."
Early in the second half, Jill Ballard had a chance to send the Panthers ahead but her shot from 10 yards was wide left.
Ballard also failed to convert a penalty corner late in the first half.
Once Liberty fell behind, the young Lions seemed to come to life and they controlled the action in the final six minutes.
The closest Liberty came to scoring was off a shot by Amy North with 5:08 left. North sent a hard shot toward the cage from 15 yards but North Carroll goalie Holly Seravalle made a kick save.
Liberty kept the ball in North Carroll's end of the field most of the rest of the game but came up empty.
"It was anybody's game," said Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn. "We're young and going to get better. It will come for us. We're the only team in the county not ranked and we don't deserve to be right now. But once we learn to work together we'll be OK."