The thought of having to share the county field hockey crown with Westminster just didn't sit well with the North Carroll Panthers.
As their match at Liberty went to overtime in a scoreless draw last night, the chances grew greater with every moment gone by.
And then stepped up Jill Ballard, who simply wasn't in a sharing mood.
The North Carroll junior settled a penalty corner feed from senior Valerie Aberts four minutes into the first overtime period and blasted a shot past Liberty goalie Heather Carter to give the Panthers a 1-0 win and the county crown.
The goal came on the Panthers' 10th penalty-corner opportunity. Time after time in the game, they went to Ballard in that situation, andshe eventually got the job done.
"That was just an outstanding goal," said North Carroll second-year coach Denean Koontz.
"I told her she'd come through when we needed it most, and that certainly was the case today. It really was a total team effort. The goal was the icing on the cake."
The Panthers finish the regular season at 5-1-1 in the county and 10-1-1 overall. Westminster put the pressure on Tuesday with a 2-0 win over Liberty to finish with a 4-1 county record. A better winning percentage gave the title to North Carroll, who split their two games with Westminster.
"These kids are an outstanding group of girls on and off the field," Koontz said. "They don't take anything for granted and deserve everything they've accomplished with a lot of hard work."
Liberty (7-5, 2-4) stayed right with North Carroll throughout the contest and often outplayed the Panthers during stretches but couldn't get anything past a Panthers defense that has yielded only two goals.
The solid effort couldn't come at a better time for the Lions, who have a good chance of again seeing the Panthers in the 2A West Region playoffs.
"It was a well-played game on both sides," said Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn. "It was our best game of the season and that's good news with the start of the second season. We now know we can play with North Carroll."
Liberty put the pressure on midway through the second half before the Panthers had three straight penalty corners in the final moments of regulation.