Hereford High’s boys’ soccer team admits it’s not the biggest. But the Bulls’ big-game experience and sheer tenacity more than make up for it.

The 16th ranked Bulls held off host and No. 15 Franklin, 2-1, to win the Class 3A North Region championship. Junior midfielder Matt McArthur scored a goal for the Bulls (12-3-2 overall) and senior goalie Michael Warns had nine saves. Sophomore forward Scott Luthy had a goal for Franklin (12-4-1). 

It’s back to the state Final Four for Hereford, which will play Northern of Calvert County, Saturday at CCBC-Essex. Northern defeated southern Maryland rival Huntingtown, 1-0, for the South Region championship Tuesday evening.

Last season, the Bulls reached the final game before losing to Montgomery County’s Clarksburg. Despite graduating 12 seniors, Hereford coach Mike Lacko has seen his young team find its way back to the state tournament.

“They have a lot of size and a lot of speed which we don’t,” said Lacko. ”We just more or less possess the ball. It was a hard fought game.”

“They were aggressive and out-sized us greatly,” said McArthur. “We were able to get a couple of opportunities and finish it.”

McArthur followed freshman A.J. Endres’ attempt, placing the rebound in the upper right corner in the first half, for what would be the game-winner. Warns, who recently returned to goal after a broken finger, made it hold up as Franklin dominated the offensive chances over the final 40 minutes.

“He’s a big asset,” said Lacko. “Everybody’s back healthy, which is a big benefit to us.”

The Bulls benefited from a miscue as a Franklin player mistakenly knocked the ball into his team’s net, giving the visitors a 1-0 advantage. The Indians got it back as Jared Kenny sent a ball in the box, and senior Edward Hans headed it down. Luthy got his foot on the ball from about five yards away and sent it past Warns.

Hereford boys soccerFranklin kept the pressure on the Bulls’ defense most of the second half as Ryan Silcott’s header hit off the left side of the top cross bar in the waning seconds. Indians coach Ian Reid said Hereford’s quickness negated his team’s height advantage.

“They’re a pretty small team and we have some height but we didn’t really get a lot out of that,” said Reid. “We were a little unlucky at the beginning, but it could’ve gone either way.”

Hereford now stands two wins away from its first state championship since 1989. Lacko said there’s been no complacency with his young roster.

“They want to work hard and they let me know it,” said Lacko. “We always set the bar high.”

“We knew we could do it. We don’t have the size and power, but we have the skill,” said Dimes, one of four seniors on Hereford’s roster. “We found through speed, agility and hard work, we can win games.”