With uneven regular seasons behind them, Glenelg and Hereford advance to 2A field hockey state title game; Francis Scott Key breaks drought


by Nelson Coffin

Glenelg High and Hereford field hockey squads found redemption in  different ways Wednesday evening.

The Bulls, who were VSN”s No. 1 team in preseason rankings, topped No. 13 Liberty, 1-0, in overtime in a Class 2A state semifinal match at Broadneck’s Lawrence E. Knight Stadium, while the Gladiators dismissed Kent Island, 3-0, with a second-half surge in the other semifinal.

They will meet on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Washington College in Chestertown for the state title. For the first time in 21 years, Francis Scott Key will play for a state championship.

The Eagles (11-5 overall) defeated Fallston, 1-0, in a 1A state final four match at Montgomery County’s Paint Branch. Morgan Mattson’s goal with 20 minutes, 32 seconds left in regulation was the difference for Francis Scott Key, which will play southern Maryland’s Patuxent in Saturday’s state title match in Chestertown at 1:30 p.m.

The Carroll County school last reached a state final in 1996, losing to Eastern Shore powerhouse Pocomoke. Since then, Fallston has won eight state championship and reached 16 state final fours.

The Cougars, looking for their first state title since 2012, got two saves from Megan Dudick.

The Gladiators and Bulls weren’t playing particularly well at the end of the regular season.

Taylor Hackett and Mackenzie McKillop

Hereford (11-8) dropped three of its last four matches and Glenelg was shutout in back-to-back contests against unranked Marriotts Ridge and No. 10 River Hill.

By its high standards, Hereford’s regular season was disappointing even before briefly dropping below .500.

The postseason, though, has been quite the opposite for a team that still seems to be finding its way.

To beat Liberty (14-4), last year’s Class 1A state champs, it took a ton of patience to finally solve the Lions’ standout junior goalie Grace Fenner, who finished with nine saves.

Senior attacker Taylor Hackett nailed the game winner on a pass by junior attacker Mackenzie McKillop in the sixth minute of the first 10-minute overtime period.

“(Sophomore attacker) Anna Brandt sent the ball in (to the circle) and it hit off of something,” McKillop said. “I sent it to Taylor and she was right in front of the goalie, and she sent it right in.”

Fortunately for the Bulls, Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall did not follow up on her decision to sub for Hackett just before she slapped home the decisive goal.

“I thought she was a little tired, and I was ready to take her out,” the coach said.

Even though the Bulls had the better of play, compiling eight penalty corners in the second half, 10 overall in regulation and one more in the extra session, Liberty refused to yield for more than 65 minutes of game action.

The Lions were also forced to play shorthanded for 12 minutes after drawing penalties, including a five-minute sequence in OT.

“I’m not one to complain,” Liberty coach Brenda Strohmer said. “And I admit that Hereford has better stick skills than we do, but Liberty field hockey was taken out of the game. But our girls handled it with class.”

Fenner, who faced several precarious situations with aplomb and athleticism, made saves that were typical of her, according to Strohmer.

She was also bailed out by junior defender Megan Hall, who alertly brushed aside a Hereford offering late in regulation.

Duvall said that Fenner was “a force” in the cage for the Lions.

Of course, she had a force of her own in senior goalie Camryn Kelbaugh, who made her share of tough stops as well.

Paige Reese and Maddy O’Brien

In the opener, Glenelg also struggled offensively until a two-goal spurt in the second half.

And, while the Gladiators (11-4) snapped out of their scoring funk to avenge both of the losses in the playoffs to their Howard County foes, the lack of offensive punch may have left some folks wondering if they had enough oomph to get past a high-scoring squad from Kent Island.

To get things started, Glenelg’s All-State senior midfielder, Paige Reese, converted a feed from junior midfielder Jenny Giampalmo in the fourth minute to give the Gladiators a 1-0 advantage that held until halftime.

In the second half, the offense perked up even more, getting goals by Giampalmo and Georgia Esmond to secure the program’s first state finale berth since 2010.

Esmond’s goal came off one of five penalty corners the Gladiators earned in the second half.

Meanwhile, the defense, most notably Reese and fellow seniors Maddy O’Brien and Maddie Bacon and junior Annie Jubb, stymied the normally high-scoring Buccaneers (13-3), who boasted a robust 5.2 goals-per-match average before the semifinal.

Glenelg senior goalie Hope Wobbe made two sprawling saves with just under 13 minutes remaining in regulation to preserve the shutout.

Glenelg coach Nicole Trunzo said that her team had high hopes back in preseason, despite the graduation of 10 key seniors from last year’s squad.

“The team really came together,” an emotional Trunzo said. “They have great.”

She attributed the second-half surge against Kent Island to warming to the task at hand on a chilly night in Cape St. Claire.

“We got into the flow in the second half,” Trunzo said.

How important was the shutout?

“It was very important,” O’Brien said. “We worked so hard this season and have really come together.”

MPSSAA FIELD HOCKEY SEMIFINALS

CLASS 2A

AT BROADNECK

NO. 11 GLENELG 1, KENT ISLAND 0
G 1 2 — 3
KI 0 0 — 0
Goals: G-Paige Reese, Jenny Giampalmo, Georgia Esmond.
Assists: G-Jenny Giampalmo, Sarah Cipolla.
Saves: KI-Hope Wobbe 8; G-Rachel Barker 5

HEREFORD 1, No. 13 LIBERTY 0
H 0 0 1 — 1
L 0 0 0 — 0
Goals: H-Taylor Hackett.
Assists: H-Mackenzie McKillop.
Saves: H-Camryn Kelbaugh 6; L-Grace Fenner 9.

CLASS 1A

AT PAINT BRANCH

FRANCIS SCOTT KEY 1, FALLSTON 0

FSK 1  0 – 1

FSK 0 0 – 0

Goal: FSK-Morgan Mattson.

Assist: FSK-Makayla Black.

Saves: FSK-Kourtney Black 5; F-Megan Dudick 2