In a crowd is where Severna Park senior Erin Shaklee stands out the most.
The busy scoring arc, where field hockey games are won or lost, has been Shaklee's domain the past three seasons as the center forward for the No. 2-ranked Falcons, 11-2 this fall and winners of the last two Class 4A state championships.
Whether she's zigzagging her way by defenders in the tightest of spaces, pushing a soft pass to a teammate's stick or firing home a hard drive, Shaklee's presence can always be found.
And the numbers she's accumulated along the way could soon be found at the top of the Severna Park record book.
With 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) so far this year, Shaklee is five points away from breaking the mark for points in a season -- 37 shared by 1996 grad Amy Noble and 1982 grad Lisa Arnold. With 67 career points (39 goals and 28 assists), those five points also would break Noble's career mark of 71.
The numbers are flattering to Shaklee and she says reaching personal goals helps get her pumped up. But dodging past defenders is often more enjoyable than scoring goals and her No. 1 priority is helping the team make it three state titles in three years.
So when asked about the Falcons' overpowering offense and her lead role, she redirects the question like she does to so many shots that come from the top of the circle and find the back of an opposing cage.
"A lot of it is the defense and midfield pushing up -- they give us a chance to look good," said Shaklee. "And we have a lot of power forwards who can get the ball up the sideline pretty fast. Playing the center forward position for three years, I know where to go and when to go. I get more physical in the circle looking for the garbage right in front."
Severna Park coach Lil Shelton, who has guided the Falcons to 11 state titles, says she looks for good stickwork, quickness, smarts and unselfish play in a quality center forward. Shaklee possesses all those traits and then some.
"Aggressiveness has to come from within -- it's something you can't teach. Erin has power over her area," said Shelton. "A lot of girls reach their senior years and don't have total control of their stick. Erin does. 'Incredible' is the one word I constantly use with her stickwork. She's worked so hard on it."
"Unbelievable" was the word used when Shelton and assistant coach Sue Behringer watched Shaklee score an improbable goal against Meade earlier this season.
"She was taking it across [the goal area] and it was getting away from her. She dove, had to reverse her stick in the process and popped it over the goalie as she was falling," said Shelton. "We tell our players to do whatever it takes to get the ball in the cage and there was Erin, stretched out on the ground."
Nothing Shaklee does on the field surprises senior Lissa Morris, a midfielder and best friend.
"Every chance she gets, she's fiddling around with her stick and a ball. She works hard at it, loves the game and her skills have shone through," said Morris. "When I get the ball, I always try to feed it to her because I know she's going to make something happen."
Winning brings tradition and superstitions, and the Falcons certainly have their share, which Shaklee, also known as "the chip girl," finds herself right in the middle of as a team captain.
So when it's time for the referees to check sticks before each game, there's Shaklee with a bag of chips. And not just any chips.
"They have to be Dorito's Nacho Cheese tortilla chips," she said.
"Every player has to touch the bag of chips [as they go through the line] and if they eat a chip the first game, they have to eat one every game after. The ref took a chip the other day and we were a little worried about that."
Shaklee, a member of Team Maryland the past two years, would like nothing better than to close out her high school career -- bag of chips in hand -- in the state championship game at Goucher College. All the past success brings pressure to maintain the excellence.
"It can get kind of scary, but we're used to it," said Shaklee. "We just bring the attitude that we can do it. Goucher? It's always cold, real cold. But it's the best feeling when you work so hard to get there."
By the numbers
The Severna Park Falcons, winners of 11 state field hockey championships, have had a long list of talented scorers. The latest is senior Erin Shaklee, who is fast approaching the program's career scoring mark.
Year, Goals, Assists, Points
1999, 16, 17, 33
1998, 15, 8, 23
1997, 8, 3, 11
Totals, 39, 28, 67
(With her 67 career points, Shaklee is four shy of tying Amy Noble's career mark of 71, set between 1993-96.