Out of an abundance of talented field hockey players in Carroll County, one from Liberty High has emerged this season to lead the Lions to much greater heights than anybody expected.
Amy North, a senior forward, always seems to score crucial goals for a team that has risen to 10th in the Baltimore metro area field hockey rankings.
On paper, the Lions just didn't figure to stack up with North Carroll, Francis Scott Key and Westminster.
But Liberty (9-3) has rallied behind North (nine goals and two assists) to win nine of its last 10 games and ride into the regional playoffs.
North's 1994 heroics began when she scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over South Carroll, continued with an assist in a 2-1 win over eventual county champion Westminster, and concluded with two goals in a 2-1 overtime decision over North Carroll a week ago.
North has truly been a big-game player for Liberty, dating all the way back to her sophomore year when she scored an overtime goal to beat Francis Scott Key.
"There's a hunger deep inside for me to do my best," said North. "In the overtime win over North Carroll, I was simply following instructions from our coach [Courtney Vaughn]. We were supposed to push the ball through and not play around with it."
And push it through is exactly what senior Debbi Bourke and North did as they combined for the winning goal.
Bourke corraled the ball about 25 yards from the goal, took it another 10 yards and then sent a crisp pass ahead to North who had beaten the North Carroll defenders for a one-on-one scoring opportunity against goalkeeper Becky Bosley.
North was a perfect finisher, driving the ball into the right corner of the cage 7:36 into overtime.
That victory raised Liberty's county record to 3-3, which was good enough to challenge Westminster (3-2 in the county) and North Carroll (4-3) for first place.
In fact, Liberty would have taken the county title if it had beaten South Carroll the second time around on Oct. 12.
"Amy is quiet and prefers to let her performance speak for her," said Vaughn. "But she can get the team fired up when we need it. She believes in herself and her teammates. Amy is a real good kid."
The third-year varsity field hockey player carries a 3.9 grade-point average, is a member of the marching band and plays varsity basketball and lacrosse.
"I get bored when I don't do anything," said North, who was a second-team All-Carroll field hockey choice as a junior. "It is kind of tough to keep up with everything but I like to be successful."
Liberty made it to the state 2A semifinals last season before losing to Fallston, 1-0. The Lions earned that trip with a victory over highly regarded North Carroll on strokes.
"That win was the biggest thrill of my field hockey career," said North. "We'd like to go back to the states but we know we'll probably have to beat North Carroll again to get there."
Like many young girls in the Liberty High School area, North was a soccer player first and field hockey was an afterthought.
But in the eighth grade, she decided to switch to field hockey and two years later she made the varsity.
"Learning the stickwork was the hardest part for me," said North, whose speed is a major asset in her success.
She is also steady in the circle, sees the ball well and wants to put it in the cage, said Vaughn.