Three teams took different paths to successfully defend county championships this season.
For the Centennial girls soccer team, it was a case of players stepping up to fill major voids left by graduation. The River Hill boys soccer team overcame an early loss to Atholton to stay the course. And the Mount Hebron field hockey team counted on balance to produce a winning formula.
Here's a quick look at each team's regular-season highlights that enabled them to repeat as county champions.
Centennial girls soccer (11-1-1 overall, 8-0-1 in the county): After losing players at every position - including All-American midfielder Hayley Siegel - the Eagles were quick to find a new identity with the same success as they stayed a step ahead of River Hill, Glenelg and the rest.
Senior Lily Boleyn moved to forward from midfield and scored 10 goals in the regular season; senior midfielder Danielle Rosanova has controlled the middle; and strong play in back has been led by junior Sara Cooper and goalie Caitlin Burr.
"At the start of the season we just told the kids that now was the time to step up and there was no reason we can't still be successful," said Centennial coach Mike Senisi, who has won three county titles in his 10 years. "We made mistakes, but were able to find a way to win together. It's very satisfying and good for the kids."
The defining moment in the Eagles' regular season came in the 86th minute of the team's 1-0 win over Glenelg on Oct. 5 when Boleyn provided the game-winner. The Gladiators came in at 7-0 and hadn't allowed a goal to that point.
River Hill boys soccer (9-1-1, 8-1): The Hawks lost their county opener to Atholton and then ran the table to capture their sixth county crown by percentage points over the Raiders.
An important win down the stretch came at home against Mount Hebron, when the Hawks got a late goal from Tyler Meade for a 1-0 win.
River Hill coach Bill Stara, who has led the Hawks to six Class 3A state titles, including the past three, said winning county titles isn't a priority for his team.
"It's not one of our objective goals," he said. "We're looking to find a rhythm, flow and style of play during the regular season to get us ready to play in the state playoffs."
Mount Hebron field hockey (14-1, 9-1): In winning their second straight county title and fifth overall under coach Jeanette Ireland, the Vikings have talent all over the field.
Ireland said the Vikings not only are a talented bunch, but a happy one as well.
"They love playing together and I think that's huge," she said. "On any team, when you have players that enjoy being together, they also play hard for each other. They know everybody is going to make mistakes and they pick each other up."
Mount Hebron scored 47 goals against county foes during the regular season with senior Lauren Sterner leading the way, while a stingy defense led by senior back Alex Mengel yielded just five goals.