Amy Hanson is known among her Leonardtown teammates as one of the "Original Four," a nickname for the four seniors who played as freshmen four years ago when the school's varsity lacrosse program began.
Hanson understood more than most Tuesday how her game-winning goal, which lifted the Raiders over Northern, 8-7, would change her team's reputation.
When she unleashed her shot with two minutes left, she thought, "I don't want to let my team down."
Hanson's third goal put the final touch on a game the Raiders dominated in the first half and barely held onto in the second. It came after four straight Northern goals had taken the steam out of the previously hot-handed Raiders.
Leonardtown players rushed the field when the final seconds elapsed, elated with their second victory over Northern this season. They defeated the Patriots for the first time April 5, by a 7-6 score.
Raiders Coach Mike Denny, in his fourth season, called the two victories a major step forward.
"This is a huge win for our program. . . . We're trying to push. We felt in the beginning that we could contend for the SMAC championship this season," he said. "Today was important in that quest. But no matter what, we control our destiny, because we go head to head with Calvert."
The Southern Maryland Athletic Conference championship is decided by regular-season conference records, and the Raiders lost to Calvert early this season, 9-8, in overtime. A loss to Northern would have severely decreased the Raiders' title chances.
Hanson's shot prevented that from happening. Hanson, who already had 10 goals this season, took a pass from sophomore Jeanine Harrington and charged the net for the winning shot.
"I had to get it off in as few steps as possible before they all collapsed on me," she said. "I knew if I got it off quickly it would be open. We didn't have much time left, and I put it in."
Northern gained possession on a draw after the goal, but Lauren Phelps sailed an open pass over Eileen Cleary's head, and the Raiders took possession. They spread their offense and held on until the horn.
Northern Coach Maggie Mike said her team grew lax on defense instead of bombarding Leonardtown with intensity. She said the team held back and waited for the Raiders instead of rushing them.
"I wanted them to pressure. [Leonardtown] went into a stall," Pike said. "I wanted them to double- and triple-team them. They gave the game to Leonardtown."
Page Christensen's third goal put the Raiders ahead, 7-3, in the second half, but Northern held them scoreless for the next 12 minutes.
In that time, the Patriots pulled a seemingly out-of-reach game within their grasp with four consecutive goals. Senior Amy Taylor tied the game, 7-7, when she took a pass from Lauren Niffenegger and bulled inside for a score.
"We had the game," said Taylor, who will play for Stony Brook (N.Y.) University next season. "It was just common-sense things in the end. We let them do what they did last time. They were stalling. You'd think we'd know how to do it. We do, we just didn't do it."
Raiders goalie Jenna DeLozier made things difficult for Northern with 20 saves. She deflected point-blank shots from eight meters and pushed the ball downfield.
"Our goalie is great," Christensen said. "If it wasn't for her, we wouldn't win any games. . . . She's so good on eight-meters. She's great at stopping them. Most goalies aren't supposed to stop them, but she always does."