Hereford assistant boys soccer coach Brett Baier took a chance by buying 35 hats that read “2013 SOCCER STATE CHAMPS" before the No. 4 Bulls took the field against No. 5 Fallston on Saturday afternoon at UMBC in the Class 2A final.
“I had a feeling we would win,” Baier said.
In the end, the team didn’t let him down.
Hereford’s 1-0 victory gave the Bulls their first state crown since 2000. Senior striker Pat Fisher became the hero after scoring the lone goal in the middle of second half.
Hereford coach Mike Lacko said a tremendous work ethic defined the Bulls, whose lineup features 11 seniors.
“We worked them very, very hard,” he explained. “They just bit the bullet and would do it. There is not a single club soccer player on this team. I have some of the best athletes in the state of Maryland.”
Count Fisher, who scored in the 55th minute, among them.
He outraced two defenders down the left sideline, and struck a left-footed, 15-yard shot that went to the right corner past sprawling senior goalie Kyle Tyree, who got a piece of the ball.
Senior back Nate VanResselaer was credited with the assist.
“I knew it would be a dagger to their confidence,” Fisher said. “As soon as I hit it, I just thought, ‘This is it. We are going to do it.’”
Hereford’s defenders Tim VandeWater, Pat Findle, Luke Wickiser and Matt Groff took care of the rest.
“The defense just played great,” Fisher said. “They really didn’t let anything happen. The whole game, I didn’t think they had many opportunities at all — maybe one or two good chances.”
Fallston’s best opportunity for the equalizer came in the 69th minute when Chris Grant’s shot from the right corner was snatched in the box by goalie Hereford Dan Staab while surrounded by a cluster of players.
The Bulls (14-2-3) almost scored again when John DeGraw and Fisher each hit the post on consecutive shots about two minutes later.
Hereford controlled the ball for most of the opening half while testing Wes Rumple, Ben Smith, Matt Estremsky and Vinnie Profili on the Cougars' backline.
The Bulls threatened Fallston's first-half goalie Pat Coonan, who grabbed the ball away from Hereford striker Jason Ashwood 4 yards from the front of the goal.
"I was really surprised,” said Fallston first-year coach Drew Bisker, whose team finished 15-2-3. “Physically, I thought we were going to wear them down, but they didn’t wear down. They were a pretty good team physically and they could really run up and down the field.”
Class 3A final
Hereford 1, Fallston
Goals: H – Fisher,
Assists: H – VanResselaer
Saves: H – Staab 1; F – Tyree 2, Coonan 0
Half: M, 0-0