Going into its Class 3A North Region championship match with defending state champ Hereford High Wednesday, North Harford believed whichever team scored first would win.

It came to fruition for the visiting Hawks as senior Jessica Rutherford scored early in the second half, sending North Harford to a 2-0 victory in Parkton, and a state semifinal berth.

“I had a feeling whoever scored first between the two teams was going take the win,” said North Harford coach Katie Simms. “I’m just glad it was us who scored first.”

The Hawks had defeated the Bulls, 2-0, during the regular season, but they expected another tough test from the Baltimore County champs. The teams played to a scoreless tie in the first 30 minutes.

With 24 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in regulation, Rutherford scored off of a corner. It was all the Hawks would need.

“The ball was on the corner and my teammate hit it to my stick and I just took a shot and it went in,” said Rutherford. “We definitely needed that goal because we knew it would psyche them out, it was huge.”

“When they scored, it kind of broke the ice for them,” said Hereford coach Tammy Mundie. “It was so hard to score the entire game.”

With five minutes left, junior forward Rebecca Rinaca shut the door on Hereford’s repeat hopes.

“We started out very young,” said Mundie. “Most of last year’s starters had graduated, so we basically started with the JV team from last year. Though we won the last thirteen games and the county championship and had the incentive to win it all, but today, unfortunately, it didn’t happen for us.”

For the first time since 1998, North Harford is headed to the state Final Four where they it will play Northern-Calvert Wednesday evening at Broadneck. The Hawks last won a state title in 1975.

“I’m just so proud of these girls,” said Simms. “They played with so much heart and so much intensity. This win was a longtime coming,  and I’m just so proud of them.”