When Lyndsey Munoz got the call to play for the North team in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic, it took a minute to sink in.
North? Isn't her school, St. Mary's in Annapolis, pretty far south?
"I was like, 'Cool,' when he told me I made the team. It didn't even register with me that everybody else was on the South team," Munoz said.
Every other player from Maryland is on the South side for Saturday's fifth annual Classic at 5:30 p.m. at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium, but a glut of goalies shifted Munoz north.
"We take the four best goalies. Three ... were from the Maryland-Virginia area, so the way of thinking is, [Munoz is] going to Stanford, so we decided to put her on the North team," said the event's director, Ryan Heacock, because Stanford is the farthest away of the goalies' colleges.
Munoz, a second-team All-Metro goalie, isn't at all disappointed to play against — rather than with — the area's best players, including eight All-Metro first-teamers: South River's Brooke Griffin and Natalie Glanell, Winters Mill's Mackenzie Cyr, McDonogh's Hannah Franklin and Taylor Virden, Broadneck's Courtney Tomchik, Severna Park's Sarah Lloyd and Bryn Mawr's Paige Hanson.
"I was just happy to make the team," she said.
Munoz doesn't think she'll necessarily have an advantage playing against girls she's met before. She knows their tendencies, she said, but they also know hers.
"She embraces the challenge," said Mike Molster, a goalie coach who worked with Munoz and other top Anne Arundel County players before taking a volunteer coach's position at Johns Hopkins last fall.
"She really likes the idea — I don't want to say of being the underdog because that's too much of a cliche — of being in a position where she's going to have to win the confidence of some of those girls. [In All-Star games,] you don't know everybody. Even if she was playing on the South team, she might know two or three or four girls, but she'd at least have heard about them. The difficulty she has is they might not even have heard of her, because she didn't play up in the North," Molster said.
For Munoz, surprises are nothing new in her lacrosse career.
She began playing at 5 and grew into a good little attacker, but in fifth grade, her feet started to hurt when she ran. Diagnosed with inflamed growth plates and "really flat feet," she said, her mother suggested trying the goal, so she did. After her feet stopped hurting, she played both positions for a while.
"Going into high school, I knew I had to pick one and I just really liked playing goalie. You kind of get the best of both worlds, because you can come out on the field and play, go through people or if you want to stay and be in the goal, you can do that."
By the time she started high school at Archbishop Spalding, she was a full-time goalie. In her sophomore year, she transferred to St. Mary's, where she emerged this spring, in her second season as a varsity starter, as one of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference's top field hockey and lacrosse goalies.
"This year, her confidence and determination made it all come together," St.Mary's coach Megan Lewis said. "Her risks she would take before might not have worked out. This year, she had the confidence or the experience in the league, so those risks paid off more."
When it came time to look at colleges, Munoz had George Mason on her list of possibilities, but when she tried to contact coach Amy Bokker, Munoz discovered that Bokker had left for Stanford.
"I was talking to somebody and I remember saying, 'Stanford? I don't think I could go there.' But my goalie coach, Mike Molster, was like, 'You can go for anything. Nothing's too big. Take a chance.' So I went for it."
She flew to Palo Alto for a Christmas-break camp during her junior year and was hooked.
In September, Munoz, who graduated with a 4.1 grade-point average, will head to Stanford to study biology as a foundation for further education to become a physical therapist. Even that interest was sparked by accident — literally.
Rushing from SATs to the field for a lacrosse tournament last summer, Munoz suffered a severely sprained ankle and needed physical therapy.
"I only had to be in there for three or four weeks, but I got to see what they do and I just thought it was really neat," she said.
Munoz hadn't thought much about all of these unexpected turns for the better, but she won't mind if they keep coming.
"Good things keep happening," she said. "I just always look at the positives when I'm in a situation. I love challenges and new things. I feel very fortunate all these things have turned out the way they have."