At a youth soccer tournament in Southern Pennsylvania more than a decade ago, a young Katie Lenz willed her team to victory with a pair of goals in the championship game, leaving her good friend and opponent in the match, Caroline Brown, to take home a second place medal.
Little did they know they would eventually reunite as collegiate teammates hundreds of miles from home.
"I played against her when I was little, and then when I was 12 I joined her team," Lenz said.
In an improbable crossing of paths, Brown and Lenz now suit up as teammates at the University of Tennessee, 552 miles from their native Hershey, Pa.
"The Hershey Connection," as they are affectionately called by their head coach Brian Pensky, Brown and Lenz said their friendship and competitive natures allowed them to push each other to improve at a young age.
"I would say we both have that competitive spirit that pushes each other a little bit further," said Brown, a senior member of the Lady Volunteer's soccer team. Brown boasts an impressive 12 career game-winning goals, putting her second all-time in school history in the category.
Lenz, on the other hand, is a relative newcomer to the Lady Vols. She spent her first two college years playing for West Virginia University, where she made 35 appearances for the Mountaineers before making the decision to transfer.
"When I was thinking about transferring, I was looking at places I might want to go," Lenz said. " I kind of wanted to go somewhere I knew someone."
That is when she made the decision to call Brown about possibly joining the Lady Vols. A few days later, she was on a plane to Tennessee, and the rest is history.
Lenz accredited her smooth transition between schools to her friendship with Brown. The two now try to use their familiarity with each others' playing styles to pay dividends on the field.
"When we're out there on the field, I've been playing with her for so long, it's natural," Lenz said. "I know exactly where she's going to be and she knows where I'm going to be."
Pensky spoke high praise for the two senior forwards, calling it "a treat" to have the two at his disposal. He also believes their close relationship will bring added chemistry to the squad.
"Soccer is all about feeling the game, reading your teammates, being in sync with your teammates," Pensky said. "Oftentimes, the better the relationships off the field, the better they're going to be on the field because you connect with that person.
"And I think you see some of that between these two."
Brown, Lenz and the rest of the Lady Vols play Friday night at University of Central Florida before returning home for a match on Sunday at 1 p.m. against James Madison.