Third-ranked Gladiators survive tough challenge from Hereford, 6-5 (VIDEO HERE!!)

by Nelson Coffin

When asked if she thought her team could win a state title by scoring a season-low six goals, Glenelg High senior midfielder Anna Callahan did not waffle.

“I absolutely did,” Callahan, a Duke commit, confirmed after the No. 3 Gladiators edged 10th-ranked Hereford, 6-5, in the Class 2A girls lacrosse state championship game at Stevenson University’s Mustang Stadium on Wednesday evening. “I knew we could do that.”

And with standout senior goalie Maddie McSally in the goal circle surrounded by top-notch defenders, such as senior Sophie Kraus, juniors Mallory Jubb, Annie Jubb, Nalls, Courtney Baehr and Maddie Southern and sophomore Ashely O’Byrne, Callahan had every reason to be confident in her response.

The Bulls who made a valiant effort to dig out of a 4-0 hole late in the first half to eventually draw even twice after the intermission, were just unable to net that elusive sixth goal against such an immoveable object.

“That was pretty impressive,” McSally said about the backline quarterbacked by Baehr. “Our goal coming in was to come together and crash really hard. That’s what we were focusing on —crashing really hard. When we got in trouble, we weren’t crashing as hard.”

The trouble came after Glenelg (17-2 overall) opened the game on a 4-0 run on a pair of goals by junior attacker Sarah Cipola and one each by Callahan and senior attacker Rachel Scheinberg.

Hereford (15-3) finally got off the schneid with just under five minutes remaining in the first half and added three more goals to tie the score midway through the second half.

Sophomore attacker Lindsay Clarke opened the final period with a goal on an assist from sophomore midfielder Katie Blair for the Bulls before junior midfielder Isabella Peterson notched consecutive goals to produce the first deadlock.

Cupola’s game-high third goal snapped the tie before junior attacker Libby May knotted the score again with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.

About two minutes later, junior midfielder Emily Nalls canned a free position shot to put her team ahead for good — and give the Gladiators a third straight state crown and fifth overall.

Callahan attributed the Gladiators’ ability to grind out a win against a quality opponent to their rugged non-league schedule that included No. 1 Notre Dame Prep and Washington-area powers Sts. Stephen’s and Agnes and Bishop Ireton.

“No other public school plays as tough of a schedule as we do,” Callahan said. “We know how to stay composed.”

Hereford coach Anne Ensor said that no one expected her Baltimore County champs to advance as far as they did in a somewhat tumultuous season.

“The girls learned a lot this season,” she said. “Just to get to the state final is the ultimate, and then to be able to stay in the game was something special.”

G 4 2 — 6
H 1 4 — 5
Goals: G-Sarah Cupola 3, Anna Callahan, Emily Nalls, Rachel Scheinberg; H-Isabella Peterson 2, Lindsay Clarke, Lily Cavallaro, Libby May.
Assists: G-Anna Callahan; H-Katie Blair, Lindsay Clarje, Isabella Peterson.
Saves: G-Maddie McSally 5; H-Lindsay Posner 4.