2016 2A FIELD HOCKEY STATE CHAMPIONS
Much like a football team that dominates between the 20 yard lines, only to come up short in the red zone, the Hereford field hockey team owned the action in the middle of the field throughout the first half of its 2A state championship game with Kent Island, Saturday afternoon at Washington College in Chestertown, only to come up empty on the scoreboard.
In the second half play evened out significantly, but the Bulls were able to make some magic as they got a pair of goals from senior Kailyn Brandt to capture a 2-1 victory, delivering Hereford’s third consecutive 3A state title and the ninth overall for the Baltimore County power.
Just 54 seconds into the second half, Brandt weaved between a couple of Buccaneer defenders, right of the goal, and blasted a big shot into the net, to break the ice.
The score also seemed to ignite Kent Island, which responded immediately.
First, sophomore Celina Kaufman made a strong charge into the box, only to be turned away with a one-on-one pad save by Hereford keeper Camryn Kelbaugh. That led to back-to-back penalty corners for Kent Island, its first two such opportunities of the game. On the second one, Emily Keller triggered the play, finding junior Abby Carpenter on the top left. Carpenter slapped a hard shot towards the far post, which deflected off of Kelbaugh and into the goal, tying the contest at one, with 23:57 left.
The contest remained tied for for the next seven minutes, before Brandt struck again.
This time sophomore Mackenzie Mckillop played a nice through pass that caught the Kent Island defense off guard, setting up Brandt for a decisive strike at the ball.
“I’m ecstatic right now. I don’t think I could have wished for a better end to my high school career. It was certainly a team effort. We came out here fired up, ready to win, and I don’t think we could have ended on a higher note. I am so proud of my team, and so proud of everyone who worked our butts off out there.”
Hereford outshot Kent Island 25-22 and the advantage was much more significant in the opening half, as the Bulls had eight penalty corners in the opening 30 minutes, while the Buccaneers had none.
According to Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall, her squad was a little too aggressive in the opening half.
“I think our attacking mentality was just shoot the ball, shoot the ball, but their keeper is very good at making that initial save, so we changed our philosophy at half time,” said Duvall. “We couldn’t just attack independently and shoot. We needed to move the keeper and move in pairs. We needed to move her around a little bit.”
Brandt and her classmates will now graduate in the spring as one of the most decorated field hockey classes in school history. She reflected on her class’ legacy.
“I think excellence, atmosphere, great coaching, great girls,” said Brandt. “These are my best friends out here and I’m so incredibly proud. I think our coaching and our sportsmanship towards the game, and our respect for the game relates to the field.”
Duvall echoed those sentiments.
“They are a very special group of girls. They are very motivated. They definitely earned this win today. It’s rare for teams to win three in a row, but that class was a significant part of each year.”
CLASS 2A FIELD HOCKEY STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
at Washington College
NO. 9 HEREFORD 2, KENT ISLAND 1
KI 0 1 — 1
HER 0 2 — 2
GOALS: KI-Carpenter; HER-Brandt 2.
ASSISSTS: KI-Keller; HER-Mckillop.
SAVES: KI-Wobbe 2; HER-Kelbaugh 4.