Hereford junior Mackenzie McKillop scored on a penalty stroke with 1:06 remaining in the first overtime to lift No. 15 ranked Hereford (5-4) to a 3-2 win over host Catonsville (4-2).
Taylor Hackett had two first-half goals for Hereford.
Catonsville got first-half goals from Caitlyn Baeck and Hayden Kesner and an assist from Liz Perry.
In the 7 vs. 7 overtime, McKillop got ahead of the defense and was taken down just inside the box.
“I got a pass from one of my teammates [Grace Clarke] and I was going in and the girl came from behind me and she like pushed me a little bit, and I guess I like fell for it, and I guess it was a stroke and that’s how it happened,” McKillop said.
McKillop laid on the turf in agony for a few minutes before flicking the ball to the right of Catonsville goalie Madison Manalansan (12 saves).
Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall spoke with McKillop before the shot.
“I went out there and she had a some charlie horses and I said, ‘You are taking this stroke and you are scoring this goal and she said, Yep’ “ Duvall said. “I was very confident.”
Catonsville got on the board first when Baeck scored with 21:51 left in the first half after Kisner’s shot was rejected by Hereford goalie Sydney Lippe (five saves).
Less than 25 seconds later, Hackett emerged from a scrum in front of the cage and tied the game at 1-1.
The Bulls continued to pepper the Comets goal, but shots from Clarke, Kelsey Knight and Grace Noone were all stopped by Manalansan.
Catonsville defender Camryn Gentner saved a ball off the goal line to prevent a score and Molly Buettner set up a scoring chance with a turnover for the Comets, but Baeck’s shot, after an insert on a corner by Kesner, was saved.
Hereford finally broke the deadlock when McKillop assisted Hackett with 9:03 remaining in the first half.
Just over two minutes later, Perry’s diving assist was tapped in by Kisner and the game was tied at 2-2.
“It was like ping pong for a while there,” Catonsville coach Barbara Bates said.
The second half showcased both defenses.
Hereford’s Madeleine Palumbo, Cate O’Connor, Noone and Brook Overmier bent, but didn’t break.
“We’ve had some offensive issues, but we were able to capitalize on some of those opportunities early, which felt good, and it built our confidence,” Duvall said. “Then it becomes a game of who can play better defense and that kind of went back and forth the rest of the game.”
“The defense was just a wall,” added McKillop.
Catonsville got stellar defense in the second half from Carly Gibbons, Elizabeth Simpson, Zoe Waddell and Melissa Tolton and some excellent runs from Olivia Hershfeld, but they couldn’t finish.
“She [Hershfeld] played great today,” Bates said. “That’s the best we’ve seen her play.”
Midway through the second half, Hackett sent two rapid-fire shots at the cage that were saved by Manalansan.
“She [Manalansan] did a great job,” Duvall said. “She plays for my club team and she is a very competitive goalie. She has great composure in there, she’s calm and I thought she had a great game.”
In overtime, Catonsville’s Perry had the Comets only shot on goal, just under two minutes into the extra session.
Neither team had another shot on goal until McKillop scored the game-winning stroke.
“We were really ready for this,” McKillop said. “We practiced overtime in practice and we really pushed it out.”
Bates, in her first year as head coach, had witnessed the Comets' 7-0 loss to the three-time defending state champions last year as an assistant coach, and was pleased with her team’s effort.
“They [Hereford] are always a good team. We have a lot of respect for their program,” Bates said. “We are very proud of the way we played. We have nothing to be ashamed of. They have nothing to hang their heads about, because I’ll take that all day long.”
Duvall returned the praise.
“They played great,” she said. “They were very competitive with us.”