Hereford girls soccer coach Nancy Ferguson decided to retire from coaching following the 2012 season after an 11-year stint, but she already had a successor, Brad Duvall, in mind.
After all, he served as varsity assistant on the highly successful Hereford boys soccer team for four years (2008-2011), when the Bulls won three regional championships and made one Class 3A state final appearance during that span.
Being head coach of the girls team appealed to Duvall, so he gladly worked as an assistant last year before taking over head coaching duties this fall.
"We were close (friends)," said Duvall, who also coaches the Hereford indoor and outdoor girls track teams. "She wanted to see the success she started continue. She felt I would put a lot of time into it, and I felt it was a good opportunity."
Duvall said serving as a girls varsity assistant last year was the perfect set up for this season. He gets to work with seven returning starters.
"I wanted to get a feel for what was going on, who was coming in and who was coming back," he said. "I wanted to see what was working and what was not. I could lay out the framework for down the road."
Duvall loves the talent and youth on a Hereford roster that boasts just four seniors among 20 players.
"I think we will be pretty good for the next two or three years," Duvall said. "There are more true soccer players currently in the program, where before there were more true athletes.
"They haven't won a regional championship in a while or been to a county (championship) in a couple of years," he added. "Those are our goals."
Duvall will rely on an experienced defense with seniors Melissa Meehling and Marilyn Gerovasilis and junior Alysse Gapsis who returned to anchor the backline.
They're joined in the starting lineup by returning junior goalie Sam Hooker.
"Pretty much our whole starting defense is back," Duvall said. "It's the strongest part of our team. Our goalie doesn't have to deal with a lot of pressure."
Hereford has a new goalie in Giullana Rossi, a transfer from Towson who played on the Generals junior varsity last season.
"She is a true goalie and not a field player playing goalie," Duvall said. "That's what Sam was last year and Sam was an awesome goalie. Getting Sam back on the field helps the team."
Hereford got off to a strong start, beating John Carroll in its opener, 2-1, in Bel Air on Sept. 6, thanks to goals from Hooker and Marissa Inglisa.
Four days later, the Bulls were more impressive against visiting Eastern Tech and posted a 4-1 triumph. Inglisa had two goals and Maddy Gibson and Sarah Ashwood each added one.
"Loch Raven, Eastern Tech and us will play for a country championship berth," Duvall explained. "I feel pretty good about that."
Hereford's momentum got wiped out in a 5-0 loss to host Perry Hall on Sept. 12.
"We came out extremely flat and allowed two goals (in the first 14 minutes)," Duvall said. "It got us down and we never recovered from it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun