Hereford tops No. 13 Dulaney for Baltimore County field hockey crown; Brandt scores game winner (VIDEO HERE!)

Anna Brandt had the game’s only goal for Hereford Monday. The Bulls completed a three-game season sweep of their longtime rival Dulaney.

by Nelson Coffin

Don’t be deceived by the latest VSN’s Top 20 field hockey poll that lists Dulaney High above Hereford. Yes, the No. 13 Lions boasted a better overall record at 9-5 compared to the 17th-ranked Bulls’ 7-6 mark coming into the Baltimore County championship match, prompting a higher spot in the Top 20.

It’s just that when the two rivals go head-to head, the Bulls rule.

They proved that again Monday night at Hereford, beating the Lions for the third time this season while avenging last year’s triple sweep in the process.

The 1-0 victory was a follow-up to the earlier 2-0 conquests by a Hereford squad that displayed a tenacious defense in all three encounters.

The Bulls took the game to the Lions in the first half on Monday, taking seven shots — five of which were on goal — at Dulaney sophomore goalie Allie Mercer, who finished with a game-high nine saves.

Only one of those blasts found the cage, a wicked forehanded rocket by junior midfielder Anna Brandt in the 20th minute that gave the Bulls all the cushion they would need to wrest the county crown from the Lions.

“I got the ball and heard my teammates saying, ‘go, go, go,’” Brandt said. “I think it might have gone off a defender’s stick.”

Brandt’s scoring ability runs in the family, considering that her older sister, Kailyn, scored the game winner for the Bulls in the 2016 state championship game while Anna was a freshman on that team.

Brandt and junior midfielder/forward Katie Martino had offered sizzling shots earlier in the match, although Mercer brushed both of them aside as if they were mere flies at a picnic.

“She’s a really good goalie,” Brandt said about Mercer. “She came out and pressured us, which a lot of goalies won’t do.”

Even when playing short-handed late in the first half for two minutes because of a penalty, the Bulls played ultra-tight defense while holding Dulaney to a single shot — a high and hard strike in the 27th minute by Dulaney junior forward Anna Simoes — in the first half.

On that play, Hereford senior goalie Sydney Lippe knocked Simoes’ shot down before diving headlong onto the turf during a scramble in front of the goal to swipe away another shot.

Of course, she had plenty of help from senior defender Cate O’Connor and junior running mates Grace Noone and Kelsey Knight on the backline.

Dulaney’s next-best chance to produce the equalizer came when senior forward Zoe Hermann unleashed a shot after the Lions earned back-to-back corners only to be denied once again by the agile Lippe.

Lions coach Kellie Fialcowitz said that her team just missed too many opportunities to win.

“But we played really hard,” she added. “I’m really proud of my team — it’s all good.”

Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall said that her team has been “a little inconsistent” this season.

“But a majority of them were on tonight,” she said. “For the playoffs, we need more more consistency and a better pace.”

Both teams open the postseason on Thursday when the Lions host Catonsville in the Class 4A North Region Section I semifinals and the Bulls host Lansdowne in Class 2A North Region action.

D 0 0 — 0
H 1 0 — 1
Goals: H-Anna Brandt.
Saves: D-Allie Mercer 9; H-Sydney Lippe 4.