For 48 minutes yesterday, North Carroll had the determination -- and a 2-1 lead -- in trying to beat No. 11-ranked Liberty. But a girls lacrosse game is 50 minutes long.
And the Lions scored three times in those last two minutes to defeat the Panthers, 4-2, in the first round of the Class 3A-4A-West state regional playoffs in Sykesville.
Liberty senior midfielder Trish Young knotted the game with 1: 40 left.
Junior midfielder Michelle Allen scored the game-winning goal 21 seconds later.
And junior midfielder Jessica Roguski added an insurance goal with nine seconds left in the game.
"This was a dogfight," said Lions coach Courtney Vaughn, who had to do without senior attacker and tri-captain April Shaw after she was assessed a red card 26 seconds into the second half for hitting an opponent in the head with her stick. "North Carroll always seems to come up for the challenge."
The 12-2 Lions, fifth-seeded in the playoffs, will face the winner of Saturday's matchup of Montgomery County rivals Damascus and Wooton. The win was Liberty's seventh straight over North Carroll, counting two easier regular-season victories.
The loss ended the unranked, Panthers' season with a 9-4 record. They were the tournament's 12th seed.
"Every loss is disappointing," said Panthers coach Denean Koontz. "You never like to lose."
North Carroll started quickly. Fifty-two seconds had elapsed when senior attacker Sarah Redmer intercepted a clearing attempt by Lions goalkeeper Gina Cinquegrani, rushed in alone, and shelfed a shot past the goalie for a1-0 lead.
Liberty had numerous chances to even the score, but Panthers freshman goalie Kitt Turnbaugh, who had 16 saves on the game, made some strong stops with her stick to keep her squad ahead.
With 4: 12 left in the first half, the Lions broke through. Allen centered the ball to wide-open Lindsay Weiner, and the freshman midfielder buried her shot in the bottom left corner, tying the score, 1-1.
In the second half, Redmer produced again, this time cradling the ball from a free position in the defensive end and sprinting about 80 yards to beat Cinquegrani high for a 2-1 North Carroll lead.
Liberty continued to press the issue. With 1: 40 left, Young ran through the defense and squeezed a shot past Turnbaugh to tie the game.
Twenty-one seconds later, Allen was awarded a free position about 15 feet from Turnbaugh.
"I was thinking, `Low, weak side,'" Allen said. "I knew that she was good up high and with her stick. I knew what I was going to shoot for."
Allen bounced the ball past Turnbaugh, who threw down her stick in disgust and clutched her head.
Roguski sealed the win with her goal off a feed from freshman midfielder Meagan Voight.
Koontz said her team's performance was one of its best this season.
"They played their hearts out and gave everything they had," she said. "I can't ask for anything more than that."
N. Carroll boys upset Lions
Junior attackman Zach Crisler scored two goals, and freshman attackman Nick Thurston added a goal and an assist to lead 12th-seeded North Carroll to a 6-2 upset of fifth-seeded Liberty in the first round of the Class 3A-4A West regional state playoffs yesterday in Sykesville.
Junior midfielder Brad Dalgarno, and freshman attack Justin Hackler each chipped in a goal and an assist for the 7-6 Panthers.
Senior midfielder Adam White and sophomore midfielder Ian Loper scored goals for the Lions (4-9).