People in sports often argue about what makes an athletic program a dynasty. Is it the number of consecutive wins earned? Maybe a certain number of winning seasons strung together? Or perhaps the number of titles captured?
No matter which stance you take, one can clearly see that the No. 13 Hereford Bulls (9-0, 10-2) are clearly on track after beating No. 17 Dulaney (7-3, 7-6), Wednesday, for the program’s third consecutive Baltimore County Championship, 1-0.
“You always get worried when you play a team like Dulaney, so yeah, I worried,” Hereford head coach Tammy Mundie explained. “You have to convert when you get the chance because you never know if your going to get another chance. But the girls were playing strong and playing fast, so I knew they would be getting the opportunity. We are lucky we snuck one in.”
In the showdown at Lansdowne High School, the two evenly matched teams battled through countless minutes of competitive play with neither team able to establish a lead. But that was until Hereford’s sophomore Mary Claire Abbott saw her chance at the goal.
With 15 minutes remaining in the title game, Abbott found herself in a mob of players battling for a loose ball in front of the Dulaney goal, and, with one flick of her stick, lifted the ball over the Lion goalie and into the back of the net for the 1-0 game-winner.
“It was really crazy,” Abbott explained. “There were a lot of people in front of the goal, and I knew I just had to get that over the goalie. I took a flick, it just hoped over, and I was lucky to get it in.”
Abbott’s goal was not the Bulls’ only shot at Dulaney senior keeper Olivia Cawley, who made nine saves on the night, including a diving save in the second minute of play and another when stopping a penalty stroke with less than nine minutes remaining in the first half.
In the Hereford goal, junior goalie Missy Betsill recorded six saves in the shutout win, and was quite happy with the team’s play when fellow junior Kathleen Hilberg made a game-winning stop on a late Dulaney push, blocking a ball from entering the goal while Betsill was out making a save.
“I think it feels really good,” Betsill said of the win. “And it means to me that we have improved as a team and as a family.”
Improvement is not usually something you see from a team which is defending a state title, but the Bulls, who were Class 3A champions in 2009, will need to continue improving if they wish to reach top status in the region and states again.
In 2009, the Bulls were 15-2 and won both the 3A-North region and the 3A state championship, and won counties over the Lions, 1-0, after falling to their foes in penalty strokes during the regular season.
As close as the two teams play each other, the teams again when to penalty strokes when they met more than two weeks ago, with Hereford emerging in penalty strokes, 4-1, after playing to a 1-1 deadlock through regulation and two overtimes.
“It is two tough teams and it is a great competition,” Dulaney head coach Kendra Whaley said. “We are happy that we are playing this game.
“They are good team; they are tough, and we try to plan this game in our season so we can make it into states and win states eventually. We have to put Delaney back up there.”
The Lions are no stranger to post-season play, winning the 4A-North region in 2009 and participating in the state playoffs, and Whaley says scoring will be the key to Dulaney’s post-season success.
“Scoring wins games,” Whaley explained. “[Sometimes] we can sore big, and other times we cant score. Unfortunately that’s what wins the games.”
Mundie is very optimistic about the Bulls’ upcoming post-season:
“We just have to take the excitement and this energy we were able to grab and hopefully ride this wave into the regionals and the states. I think we have the speed and the skill to do it, and we just have to bring out hearts on the field like we did in this games and I think we can go all the way.”
(click on the related videos link at the top of the page to view video highlights and interviews)
|No. 13 Hereford 1, No. 17 Dulaney 0|
HER-Betsill 6; DUL- Cawley 9.