Meade's Amanda Simmons really is on the ball.
The 16-year-old soccer player is on a record-breaking pace as the county's leading scorer. She's also a kick in the classroom, where she has a 3.96 grade-point average, including advanced placement history and chemistry courses.
Only a junior, Simmons is in her fourth year of Spanish.
She's been playing soccer since she was 4 years old and living in Monterey, Calif. A college scholarship would be the ultimate payoff.
"I'm not looking to go to a big school for soccer because soccer is not going to be my main focus," said Simmons, who scored a combined 1230 on her Scholastic Aptitude Test.
Simmons is hoping her grades and soccer skills may one day be her ticket to an academically accredited college where she plans to major in engineering.
On the soccer field, however, Simmons is the Mustangs' scoring engineer.
A second-team All-County striker last year, she currently leads the county in scoring with 28 goals and two assists.
She stands just 5-foot-2 , but Simmons' size belies her talent and experience. Her credentials speak for themselves.
For the past three years, she has played as a member of the state's Olympic Developmental Program. Last spring, Simmons qualified as an alternate for the program's under-16 regional camp.
She is currently in her fifth season with the four-time State Cup champion Columbia Crusaders, a team that plays in the Washington Area Girls Soccer League.
During a tour of Europe this past summer, Simmons -- a defender with the Crusaders -- helped the team win both the Watford and the Haarlem Cup under-16 titles with an 11-0-1 record.
"Despite her size, she's very strong and a great defensive player. She doesn't get knocked off the ball easily," said Crusaders coach Roy Andersch. "Great speed. She rarely gets beat in the back. She's everything you want in a soccer player."
Simmons' speed is a byproduct of her indoor and outdoor track seasons at Meade. Last spring, she ran the second leg of the county runner-up 400- and 800-meter relay teams.
"When the whistle blows, Amanda's in it 100 percent," said Meade's second-year coach, John O'Neill. "She's got power and finesse and leads the team by example."
As Simmons' reputation has grown, so has the frequency of tight, specialized defensive marking against her by opposing teams.
This year, the going has been the toughest for Simmons, who has been double- and even triple-teamed.
In the Mustangs' last league game, a 4-2 victory over Broadneck, Simmons scored two goals despite heavy marking by the Bruins.
"Teams tend to collapse in on me, and I just try to bring the ball out to the wings. That way, I can take the defense out of the play completely, but it's never easy," said Simmons. "Last year it only happened once or twice, but this year it's happened three or four times where I was marked the entire game."
Still, Simmons scores.
With 65 career goals, Simmons needs just two more to catch 1987 Meade graduate Julie McCormick, who holds the school's career scoring record with 67 goals and 16 assists. McCormick also holds the county's single-season goal record with 33, which she accomplished during her junior year in 1986.
Simmons needs just one goal today against Severna Park to tie two others for second on the all-time single-season scoring list with 29 goals.
McCormick and Spalding graduate Maureen Martin both scored 29 goals in one season during their high school careers.
Also a target is the county's career goal record set by 1984 Severna Park graduate Colleen Corwell (75 goals, 32 assists).
Corwell, who had a record-setting career at William and Mary College, will be standing on the sidelines as an assistant coach for her alma mater when the Mustangs take the field against Severna Park.
"I can probably catch the career goal-scoring record, but I don't get that many assists," said Simmons. "Everybody's always asking me about the single-season record. It's kind of been on my mind, but I didn't know what the record was until now."
Even with Simmons in the lineup, O'Neill had expected this season to be a rebuilding year for his inexperienced squad (6-5 overall, 2-5 against the league). Yet O'Neill said Simmons helped this year's squad to salvage at least a .500 season and exceed his expectations.
"Amanda's got a young team around her, and she's spent a lot of time covering up for the mistakes of others," said O'Neill. "She covers a lot of territory and can boot the ball about 40 yards. When she's not scoring she's giving directions to her teammates.
"Amanda makes our transitional game happen, and she's also excellent defensively."
Simmons has accounted for all but 12 of her squad's goals this season.
She has only been held scoreless twice, against North County (a 6-1 loss) and Old Mill (a 4-1 loss).
Simmons' efforts have produced four hat-trick games and two four-goal games. Twice, in victories over South River, 4-3, and Arundel, 3-1, Simmons has accounted for all of her team's goals.
As a freshman, she scored 17 times to help her squad reach the regional championship game, where it lost to Broadneck. A year ago, she scored 20 goals.
"Every year I try to improve the percentage of my shots vs. goals, and it's going up," said Simmons. "Every year I try to score more goals than the last. I'm hoping for 100 career goals."