There was the same kind of drama yesterday afternoon that has come to be expected when county rivals North Carroll and Liberty get together to play field hockey. This time around, it unfolded a little earlier.
North Carroll junior Annie Eggers scored with under nine minutes left to give the visiting Panthers a 1-0 victory over Liberty in a Class 3A North regional first-round game in Eldersburg.
In the previous 14 meetings between the two teams, 13 have gone into overtime -- including a 1-0 Liberty victory in the regular-season finale on Tuesday.
"It was a typical Liberty-North Carroll game," said North Carroll coach Denean Koontz.
North Carroll improves to 10-3 and advances to meet the Mount Hebron-Thomas Johnson winner. Liberty finishes with a 10-3 mark, with its 10-2 regular-season record its best since 1983.
Eggers' goal came after the Panthers were awarded a free hit, along the left side just past midfield.
The long cross deflected off a Liberty player right onto the stick of Eggers, who poked it home from in close along the left post.
"She was persistent. She just kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and that what it takes to score," said Koontz.
It was the third goal of the season for Eggers and her second game-winner. Late in the regular season, she scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Thomas Johnson.
This is the third consecutive year the two teams have met in regional playoffs with Liberty winning a classic two years ago in penalty strokes before North Carroll needed overtime to win last year.
After a quiet first half yesterday, it appeared overtime would be likely once again this year, but the Panthers started pressing midway through the second half.
In a span of two minutes, the Panthers had four straight penalty corners with Liberty senior goalie Heather Carter coming through with four saves during the spurt.
Carter closed out her high school career with 21 shutouts and did all she could against North Carroll, but it wasn't enough.
"They're very good and aggressive and work real well together. We just couldn't generate any offense," said Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn.
"Our defense and Heather kept us close. Defense can't win you games."
* Centennial 3, South Carroll 0: Jen Silverman scored two goals and Liz Sturm added one, leading visiting Centennial (7-4-2) past South Carroll in a Class 3A North regional game. Rebecca Armiger had four saves for Centennial.