Liberty coach Ed DeVincent says he treats throw-ins in much the same way a hockey coach might treat a power play or a football coach might treat a goal-line stand.
"We bring in the personnel [who are] going to do us best for that set play," he said.
The philosophy paid big dividends last night, as the Lions scored three times off throw-ins from sophomore Dave Szymanski during a 6-2 rout of host North Carroll in what amounted to the Carroll County championship game.
The win gave Liberty (5-4-2 overall, 4-1 county) at least a share of its third county title in four years. The Lions finished second a year ago.
Though outshot 15-13, Liberty took full advantage of its set plays, nearly scoring on two more long throw-ins that can be so devastating on narrow, football-oriented fields, including one that went in but was disallowed by the referee.
"When you get those set plays, you've got to take advantage of them," said DeVincent.
Said Szymanski: "It's worked all year. We go over it every day in practice. We're getting good at it now."
Time and again Szymanski sent strong, high-arching balls toward the goal, aiming at either the near or far posts. From there, Mike Bowers, R. J. Shoemaker and Bobby Khaksari each put in goals, the former just 1: 06 into the game.
Szymanski finished with two assists -- giving the sophomore at least one point in Liberty's last four games -- and Bowers had a pair of goals.
North Carroll coach Denny Snyder said he thought his team matched up well with the Lions on throw-in situations but simply didn't execute what it had practiced.
"The hard thing for a coach is that you can sit there and see what's happening, analyze it, and work on it, and work on it. If the kids don't take it from practice into the game, there's just nothing you can do," said Snyder. "That's probably the most frustrating thing for me."
Down 2-0, the Panthers (8-5, 3-1) answered with a goal by Kevin Chrest in the 14th minute. However, during the next 33 minutes, Liberty built a 5-1 halftime lead by scoring four straight times.
After suffering through three straight shutouts early in the season, the Lions have found offensive life in recent weeks.
"It's a matter of confidence," said DeVincent. "Once we started scoring a goal here and there, we got that confidence back."
Said the Panthers' Snyder: "Now, we've just got to regroup."