Hereford and Manchester Valley’s girls lacrosse coaches knew the benefits of playing in the Mount Hebron lacrosse tournament would only help them as they move steadily into league play with an eye toward going deep in the postseason.
Hereford lost to Mount Hebron, 13-4, in the first round of Saturday's tournament and Manchester Valley fell to the nation’s top-ranked McDonogh squad, 21-6, so the Baltimore County and Carroll County foes squared off in the consolation game.
Hereford raced out to a 7-0 lead and the Mavericks never got any closer than five the rest of the way and the Bulls prevailed, 17-9.
Sophomores Noelle Funk (7 goals, 3 assists) and Caroline May (3 goals, 3 assists) and senior Lacey Aghazarian (4 goals) led the scoring for the Bulls, who struggled offensively in the loss to Hebron.
“We just work well as a team together,” said Funk, who didn’t play last season because of a torn ACL suffered during basketball season. “We scrimmaged them early in the year and they beat us so it’s kind of like a comeback for us.”
Sarah Matanin (1 goal, 2 assists), Sarah Ashwood (1 goal, 1 assist) and Lacey Brown (1 goal) also scored for the Bulls, who shot much better than they did in the first game of the tournament.
“When we played Mount Hebron we shot 4-for-19,” Hereford coach Anne Ensor said.
Manchester Valley coach Shelly Brezicki felt her pain after losing to Hereford.
“You can’t miss on 18 opportunities.” Brezicki said. “We score on eight of those and it’s a big difference. I thought they did a good job pressuring the ball and they are a good team, but we definitely didn’t play our game today.”
Freshman Lizzie Colson (2 goals, 1 assist), junior Katie Walter (1 goal, 1 assist) and senior Taylor Carhart (2 goals) led the scoring for the Mavericks, who also got single tallies from seniors Colby Unkle, Katelyn Cattrano and Abby Dasch and sophomore Allie Little.
Hereford’s defense was led by Emily May, Caitlin Abbott and Jackie Howard and several others, as Ensor played her entire bench, but goalie MC Abbott was stellar between the pipes.
“If the defense gets the ball, it gives the whole team momentum because it’s so hard in girls lacrosse to play defense,” Ensor said. “Our goalie had a phenomenal game.”
Manchester Valley trailed 10-4 at halftime and tried to mound a comeback, thanks to strong work on draws from senior Sarah Sitton, but any chance was thwarted by Abbott, who made six saves in the second half.
The tournament also marked the first extensive play of May, who returned from a knee injury and contributed all over the field.
Her leaping one-handed interception beyond midfield sparked a Bull fast break in the second half that ended with Funk feeding Matanin for a score.
“She had a huge catch on that interception and it gets everybody fired up,” said Ensor, who hopes they can keep the flame burning when they face Catonsville on the road (April 10) and host rival Dulaney (April 12).
Brezecki also hopes the tougher competition helps her team as they play three league games this week.
“When people asked why I wanted to come to this tournament it’s because it’s not about in-season play and wins and losses,” Brezicki said. “For me it’s for preparing kids for the state tournament. “I think by playing McDonogh and playing in a tournament of this level is going to help us.”
Manchester Valley graduated five Division 1 players from last year’s 11-4 squad that lost to eventual State champion Winters Mill in the regional finals.
“I have seven seniors and I think they are doing a good job of leading the younger kids, but I have a lot of youth on this team too,” Brezicki said. “We did lose some of our depth, but I think we still have a lot of talent. We are still in the beginning stages of our season and we’re finding ourselves. I think we will learn and we’ve got three games this week so we better learn quick."