Calvert Hall soccer coach Bill Karpovich got a glimpse of his future scoring leader during last year's 3-0 Maryland Scholastic Association title victory over Curley.
Mike Lance stormed in from the left of Friars goalkeeper Dennis Merryman to tap in a two-on-one pass from teammate Todd Perkins, securing Calvert Hall's school-record 15th shutout and its 16th MSA A Conference crown.
It was the Cardinals' 63rd goal against a school-record four allowed, but only the sixth for Lance along with three assists.
But in that instant, Karpovich saw something on which to expand.
"Mike has the confidence in a one-on-one situation to take on a man and beat him," said Karpovich of Lance, who played two years on the junior varsity.
"I used him primarily in the midfield last year, but with his speed and ball-handling skills, he's stepped up and assumed the position of being a leader."
And with 10 goals and a school-record 16 assists, the senior has picked up where he left off.
Lance's attacking skills were evident over his three seasons as a striker for the Soccer Club of Baltimore, where he played alongside second-team All-City/County performers Spencer Ford (Towson), Matt Rich (Dulaney) and Mike Libber (Curley).
But he's new to the position at Calvert Hall (13-1-1) and hopes to continue a tradition established by his All-Metro predecessors.
In 1991, Bryan Bugarin (17 goals, 14 assists) and J. J. Kremmer (23, seven) led Calvert Hall, which scored a school-record 92 goals.
They are sophomores now at UMBC -- a school that is recruiting Lance -- with Calvert Hall graduate Rob Elliott, a senior and former Baltimore Sun All-Metro Player of the Year.
Lance replaces last year's go-to man, All-Metro Jeremy Baker (18 goals, six assists), who is now at Richmond. Baker thrived when double-teamed, burning his defenders with speed and endurance.
But Lance (5 feet 9, 145 pounds) is graced with neither size nor speed, instead relying on finesse and chicanery.
Lance entered Calvert Hall's record books with last week's one-goal, three-assist effort in a 5-1 win over Loyola.
"I'll do whatever the best thing is, because I've got good skill," said Lance. "I have a lot of confidence in the rest of the players, so I don't try to do it all myself. I can usually beat one man, but if not, I'll just dish it off."
His unselfish play, said Karpovich, fits the team identity and is a catalyst to its offensive distribution.
Chad Piunti (11 goals, three assists), stopper Ryan Lachowicz (seven, one), David Federline (six, two), Steve Rottman (five, five) and All-Metro Eric Branham (four, four) all have contributed to the fifth-ranked Cardinals' 53 goals.
"Mike can do a lot of things, so he could have a lot more goals," said Karpovich, whose career record is 349-73-24. "But we're getting goals from all over the place, which I like. And I'm very happy with Mike's production -- he wins the tight games for us."
Make came up big with game-winners in 2-1 victories over Boys' Latin and Loyola. And he had all three assists in a 3-1 victory over No. 8 Severna Park.
"Mike enables a lot of things to happen for everyone else, and I've never seen one time where he's had the ball taken away," said Branham, who along with Lance and sweeper Dan Johnson, started last year as juniors.
"He's always been quick and skillful, but I think, since last year, he's become a better one on one player."
Now Lance may get an opportunity to use his one-on-one skills again this week, as he and his teammates are looking toward the MSA A tournament, which begins Tuesday.
"Scoring a goal against Curley last year, that was a great thrill," said Lance.
"I hope we get there again this year, and this time, I hope to score a couple."