Over the last three seasons, it’s hard to find two boys lacrosse programs from different counties that have as much of a history as Hereford and Glenelg.
The teams met in the last two 3A/2A state championship games, with Hereford winning the matchups by a combined 15 goals. On Friday, the Bulls and Gladiators crossed paths again, this time in the state semifinals played at Annapolis High School. While the race to the end was quite different from the last two years, the result was much of the same.
The Bulls survived a three-goal surge in the fourth quarter, holding on for an 8-7 victory against the Gladiators.
“I think a lot of people were doubting us, saying, ‘Hereford is down this year,’ ” Bulls' midfielder Adam Ceribelli said. “Glenelg is always a strong program, and I thought we stepped up to the plate.”
On the heels of top performances from Jason Ashwood (3 goals, 2 assists) and Ceribelli (2 goals, 1 assist), as well as Brock Turnbaugh’s 14 saves between the pipes, the Bulls (16-3) will move on for a chance to play for a seventh consecutive state title.
“We’ve been playing really well throughout the playoffs,” Ceribelli said. “We just have to build off this for the state championship.”
After a few back-and-forth early possessions that earned Turnbaugh three saves on Glenelg’s first three shots, Hereford began building its first quarter lead with a fury.
Ashwood struck first for the Bulls, wrapping around the back of the goal and firing overhead past Glenelg’s Landry Marshall. Then, after dominating the remaining three minutes of the first quarter, Ceribelli connected for a goal with less than 20 seconds to play.
The start of the second period was more of the same. Taking advantage of a two-minute penalty, the Bulls notched a third goal, then two more at even strength, before Glenelg (13-5) could catch its breath.
Still, Hereford coach Brian King said he knew from experience that the Gladiators wouldn’t be down for long.
“Glenelg is a great program, and coach (Josh) Hatmaker always has his kids ready to play,” he said. “No lead is ever good enough with them.”
King was right, and with nine minutes remaining in the half, the Gladiator offense finally started to hit its marks.
After Tommy Chaisson and Luke Cheswick each collected tallies for Glenelg, Nick Forrest muscled through a hold and multiple checks to sink a statement third goal that got his squad back into the contest before the half.
“I didn’t think we shot the ball particularly well in the first quarter. We had opportunities but it wasn’t for a lack of trying,” Glenelg’s Hatmaker said. “The kids were going hard. They were excited. We just didn’t take advantage.”
The Bulls entered the half with a two-goal advantage, and, during the break, King stressed getting that next goal in the following frame.
His team fulfilled that charge, and then some.
Bryant Tiller’s overhead fire on a runner to his left at the 7:46 mark gave the Bulls a much-needed cushion. Then, for the remainder of the period, Hereford held onto the ball, was patient with shots and avoided turnovers to keep the Glenelg defense on its heels.
Inside the final minute of the quarter, Ashwood added a shot in the far top corner for another goal.
“We had long possessions on offense, which is what we tried to do all year,” Ceribelli said. “We finally executed it.”
Down four goals to the defending state champions, Glenelg finally began its comeback.
Forrest hit Carson Marshall at the 11:22 mark, and after Ashwood hit Ceribelli for Hereford’s eighth and final goal, the Gladiators went on a run.
Tyler Wasson, Kevin Coppinger and Cheswick all fired for scores, pulling Glenelg within one goal at the 1:39 mark of the final quarter.
“We fought back. We, athletically, could run with them, and I thought we did,” Hatmaker added.
The Gladiators got possession back with 50 seconds to go, but the final shot went for naught, and Hereford’s defense ultimately held on.
Referring to the fourth quarter as a “war to the end,” King said his team was ready to put those final minutes behind them in preparation for next week’s championship contest against Kent Island.
“We are very fortunate to be moving on, and we’re exited to be playing in the state championship,” he said. “Get us there, and let’s see where the chips fall. I have a great group of kids and I’m looking forward to coaching them one more time.”
Hereford 8, Glenelg 7
Goals: H – Jason Ashwood (3), Adam Ceribelli (2), Neil Lavietes (2), Bryan Tiller; G – Luke Cheswick (2), Tommy Chaisson, Nick Forrest, Carson Marshall, Tyler Wasson, Kevin Coppinger.
Assists: H – Ashwood (2), AJ Endres, Ceribelli; G – Kevin Wynne (2), Forrest (2), Wasson.
Saves: H – Brock Turnbaugh 14; G – Landry Marshall 8.
Half: 5-3, Bulls.