Hereford rallies in second half, dethrones Glenelg in 2A state boys lacrosse; Gibbons records hat trick (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Down four goals at halftime against Glenelg High, Hereford’s boys lacrosse team appeared headed for another disappointing postseason exit. But the Bulls found their championship DNA, and are going to back to the state final.
Hereford rallied for a thrilling 13-12 victory over the Gladiators in a Class 2A state semifinal in Western Howard County. Sophomore attack Trey Gibbons scored three goals for the Bulls and Connor Kyger added two goals an assist.
The Baltimore County school outscored Glenelg, 9-4, over the final 24 minutes, capped with Owen Cogan’s goal with 3 minutes, 46 seconds left in regulation. The Bulls’ defense closed ranks in the waning minutes to secure a spot in this weekend’s state final at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex.
Hereford will play Kent Island, Saturday afternoon for the title. It will be the Bulls’ first state final since 2018 when Marriotts Ridge defeated them in the 2A final.
Glenelg ended Hereford’s season in the 2A state semis in 2019. The Gladiators went on to win the crown.
As the sun began to descent early Wednesday evening, Glenelg’s reign was over. Hereford and its faithful celebrated its biggest victory in two years.
“I thought a lot of what today showed was how these guys managed to push each other,” said Bulls coach Kyle Leppert. “Even without a lot of gritty wins ahead of this, our guys were ready to make this a team win.”
“We didn’t feel like we were really out of the game,” said Bulls junior Mac Tiller.
Tiller, Gavin, Austin Clark slowed Glenelg’s ace faceoff Connor Iannarino, who helped set the table for a 6-1 first quarter start for the Gladiators. Glenelg led 8-4 at halftime.
The next 24 minutes were a different story. Gavin Taylorson scored two goals and Jason Bowen finished with five points (goal, four assists).
“It was a complete team effort,” said Gibbons.
Hereford tied the game at 10 after Logan Sinsebox spun himself free from a defender and bounced a shot past Glenelg goalie Stephen DeSantis with 44.2 seconds left in the third quarter. Glenelg regained the lead with Rocco Buscher scoring off a feed from Kevin Doughty with just 7.3 seconds remaining, setting up a terse final 12 minutes between two of the area’s elite public programs.
The Bulls got scores from Taylorson and Gibbons in less than 30 seconds to reclaim the advantage at 12-11 with 9:11 to play. Seconds later, Hereford goalie Colin Bush, who was solid in the second half, made a nifty stop on Glenelg’s top scorer Evan Whatley.
The Gladiators forced a turnover, and Whatley deposited a shot past Bush, tying the game with 8:30 left in regulation. Cogan received a pass from Kyger and skipped another low shot by DeSantis for the lead.
“We had a lot of 50-50 (balls) that didn’t go our way, didn’t get man-up much, definitely struggling with our game plan at the X,’ said Leppert of his team’s first half. “We felt if we could make it a 3-on-3 instead of one-on-one, we could work with it….We haven’t had a chance to climb out a hole and it was really awesome…every unit pulled together to do it.”
Whatley and Doughty each provided a game-best four goals for the Gladiators, looking to repeat as state champions for the first time since 2008 (won in 2007). Glenelg had possession with 30 seconds left, but Nick Dalton’s shot went wide and the Bulls won possession with 7.5 seconds left.
Gladiators coach Josh Hatmaker said his team “made too many mistakes,”
“We killed ourselves,” said Hatmaker. “We weren’t reacting, we didn’t see them run a lot of zone offense. They made quick adjustments…what they did wasn’t complicated but effective.”
Hatmaker, who won VSN’s Coach of the Year honors in 2019, appreciated being with his players, especially the upperclassmen, after the 2020 season was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Unbelievable group of kids, going through Covid and keeping things together,” Hatmaker said. “They were there on the field when our season ended and it ended the way that we wanted it. That’s what they wanted.”
Meanwhile, it was redemption for the Bull players who was on the 2019 team that saw their season end to Glenelg in the state semifinals. Next for the Parkton school is Kent Island, which ended the Bulls’ state-record run of six straight titles (Class 3A/2A) in 2014.
Hereford has nine state championships, tied for most with Severna Park.
“This year, definitely a little weird with the shortened schedule,” said Tiller. “We knew it was going to be tough…everybody put in the work and we’re back in the state final which is a pretty big deal.”