From the beginning, it was evident that Southern senior midfielder Kristine Wayson does not get easily deterred.
In her sophomore season at the start of her varsity career, she refused to allow a stress fracture in her shin to force her to the sidelines.
The stress fracture, suffered early in the season, caused her to miss two games. The injury could have derailed her development as a player, but her desire and inner drive would not allow it.
"I hate sitting out and watching," said Wayson, who insisted on playing with the broken bone in her leg. "I just didn't think about the pain."
"She was very tough, hardworking and played through the pain," said former Southern coach Katie Hicks.
At the beginning of that sophomore season, Wayson was very quiet, unsure of her role and how she would fit in on a team with strong senior leadership. She had been playing the sport for only a few years and wasn't entirely confident.
As the season progressed, she grew more outgoing and comfortable. Initially concerned with playing against the high level of competition, any fears and hesitance soon subsided.
Her field sense improved, along with her stick skills. She had a better grasp of how things were unfolding on the field and quickly developed into a solid contributor for the Bulldogs.
Last season, she blossomed into a player to be reckoned with. Playing midfield with Nikki Marcinik, who starts as a freshman on Towson's women's team, Wayson scored 31 goals and had eight assists en route to earning second-team All-County honors.
"Nikki and Kristine worked together and complemented each other really well," Hicks said. "Our entire attack was based on those two, and when one scored, the other made the assist."
Wayson spent countless hours practicing over the summer, fall and winter months the past two years to improve her skills.
"Because of all the work I put in over the offseason, I wasn't afraid to try something new and do something different," Wayson said.
Her burgeoning confidence was evident in last year's game against South River, a team that had dominated Southern for years, including a 17-4 romp the previous season.
"We were motivated, intense and everyone came out and played their best game," Wayson said.
Her endurance was on full display as she sped up and down the field, quick to get back on defense before swiftly transitioning into the fast break.
With the closely contested game tied at 11 with less than four minutes remaining, she scored her fourth goal of the day, which ultimately proved to be the game-winner.
With tears in their eyes, the Bulldogs piled on one another in an emotional on-field celebration.
"That game gave me and our team the confidence to say that, if we could do that against a very good South River team, then we could be successful against any other good team," Wayson said.
Not content to rest on her accomplishments and motivated to improve as a lacrosse player, she once again dedicated herself to the sport in the offseason. While playing soccer for Southern this fall, she played in numerous club lacrosse tournaments on the weekends.
In her family's front yard, she often could be found with her younger sister and teammate Kim, a sophomore midfielder, and a group of friends - playing catch, shooting and feeding each other the ball. To work on accuracy at different locations in the net, they affixed targets to precise areas of the goal, competing to see who could hit them the most.
The extra work in the front yard seems to be paying off. Kristine had six goals, to go along with two assists, and Kim added two scores in the Bulldogs' 11-5 win over Northern-Calvert earlier this season.
Always in motion on the field, Wayson's endurance has allowed her to play for long stretches with little rest.
"She communicates well on defense, plays offense and defense equally well, has good stick skills and uses her left and right hand interchangeably," Hicks said.
This season, Wayson has had to adjust to the slightly different approach of Southern's new head coach, Arvak Marshall, who previously coached the school's junior varsity.
"The offensive and defensive philosophy is somewhat different this year," Marshall said. "We're relying on Kristine's leadership and, because of her experience, she's able to pull the younger players aside when we're running drills. She's very intense and learning how to be assertive and encouraging to her teammates."
With two of her fellow captains sidelined because of injuries, the National Honor Society student with a 3.75 grade point average has had to assume even more of the leadership responsibility.
"Playing for a new coach was difficult at the beginning of the season because it was like learning to play all over again," said Wayson, who hopes to play lacrosse as a walk-on next year at James Madison. "But our goals are to keep improving on what we're learning, have fun and have a great season."
That shouldn't prove too difficult for someone whose goal was once to play with a broken bone in her leg, and who had fun doing it.