The one thing that the Glenelg boys lacrosse team desperately needed was a better start in its Class 3A/2A state championship game against five-time defending champion Hereford than it had a year ago.
In last season’s title game loss, the Bulls charged to a seven-goal lead at halftime before holding off a late Gladiator comeback attempt. On Wednesday afternoon at UMBC in the rematch, Hereford scored the game's first five goals and never allowed Glenelg to post a rally on its way to a 13-3 victory.
“We had one practice where we watched (last year’s) first half and wrote down everything on the board that we did wrong,” Glenelg senior Anthony Pagnotta said. “We came out and still did the same exact thing. We came in scared and tried to do too much one-on-one. That was all on the board.”
The Gladiators (16-3) turned the ball over on their first four possessions and looked out of sorts from the opening whistle. The Bulls, on the other hand, were completely comfortable – scoring five unanswered goals in the first quarter to take control.
“This is the second year in a row that we played terrible in the first half,” Glenelg coach Josh Hatmaker said. “We threw the ball away in very bad spots. We’d get a turnover, get the ball up and throw it away. Then get it up again, then throw it away.”
Later he added: “Eventually we’re going to learn our lesson. We have high-character kids. I feel bad for the seniors that we didn’t pull together as a team but we’ll be back.”
With the win, Hereford (19-2) set a state record with the program's ninth state championship, including winning the last six 3A/2A crowns.
Towson University-bound midfielder Jack Adams and Jason Ashwood each scored a pair of goals to help stake the Bulls with a 5-0 lead after the first quarter. Glenelg found it hard to respond, finishing the period with more turnovers (7) than shots on goal (5).
“We always come out fast and last year, unfortunately, we kind of died off towards the end of the game,” Adams said. “So this year, we were preaching staying with them and to keep pushing forward.”
Tommy Chaisson stopped the run after finishing in front of the cage on a feed from Nick Forrest at the 9:54 mark of the second quarter. After two Hereford goals, Tyler Wasson finished the half with a high-to-low laser to make it 7-2 at halftime.
Glenelg would get no closer the rest of the way, unlike in last year's game where it closed to within two goals, 9-7, in the fourth quarter. This time around, there was no comeback to be had.
Hereford’s defense – led by a pair of Division I bound goalies in Conor Cunningham (Hosftra) and Brock Turnbaugh (Hopkins) – proved why it has been so hard for opponents to score on the Bulls. Entering the game, Hereford had allowed just 70 goals in 20 contests and hadn’t allowed an opponent to score more than eight goals in any game this season.
“They were in our gloves – very aggressive,” Hatmaker said. “Especially with their keepers, you have to take an extra step. If you shoot from 12- or 13-yards on Conor or Brock, it’s a save.”
The size, speed and physicality of Hereford can be attributed to why Glenelg was off it’s game.
“We weren’t focused,” said Pagnotta, who won 13 of 19 faceoffs. “During the lineups (before the game) they were a bit bigger and I think everyone was in shock at their size. We came out a little scared.”
Hatmaker knew that Hereford would try to set the tone early with their intimidating play.
“That’s their style,” Hatmaker said. “They’re big, athletic and have a great keeper. They can be aggressive, take penalties and kill it. … They play college-style in Maryland public lacrosse.”
Forrest scored late in the third quarter with a dodge from X to make it 9-3, but Hereford finished the game with the last four goals to close the door on Glenelg’s attempt for the program’s fourth state crown.
Despite graduating last year’s Howard County Times Player of the Year Nick Wynne – among other talented members of the senior class – and the transfer of Mikey Wynne to St. Paul’s, the Gladiators won their seventh consecutive regional title and proved that their program doesn’t rebuild, it reloads.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids,” Hatmaker said. “We had a lot of things go on in our season, with me and extended families, and I think that our kids and our community really stayed together. … They came to play together as a unit.”