Georgia Esmond's followers on Snapchat received a treat this weekend.
Esmond, one of seven seniors on Glenelg’s field hockey team, quickly directed her teammates to fall in line behind her moments after the post-game ceremony at Saturday’s Class 2A state championship game. The Gladiators huddled close but made sure to crane their necks and flash some smiles while Esmond held her cellphone at the most flattering angle possible.
Selfies pair better with championship trophies, apparently.
Esmond knocked in the game’s only goal, and Glenelg held off Hereford for a 1-0 victory at Washington College.
The Bulls came into the game three-time reigning 2A champions, while the Glads sought their first state crown in five years.
They got it thanks to Esmond’s late first-half goal, and a sturdy second-half defensive effort.
Glenelg (12-4) started slow this fall, and suffered back-to-back losses to Marriotts Ridge and River Hill in mid-October. Finding consistency on offense was a struggle, Esmond and coach Nicole Trunzo agreed.
But the Gladiators came together at the right time of the season.
“The team chemistry that we have, the girls that we have on and off the field, are the best girls you’ll ever meet,” Esmond said. “Now being back here is unbelievable.”
Glenelg did more than just make the trip to the Eastern Shore — after falling in the state semifinals in each of the past three seasons, the Gladiators made sure to make the most of their opportunity.
Esmond’s goal, with an assist from senior forward Gaby Garofolo, came with 5:51 to play in the first half.
“It’s very, very hard to get the ball down from defense to midfield to forwards, and into the goal,” Esmond said. “It’s a team effort, on and off the field.”
Trunzo was happy for the offense, and she hoped her team’s defense would use it as motivation to stay steady. The unit — anchored by senior and captain Maddy O’Brien, center mid Paige Reese, another senior, and freshman goalie Rachel Barker — did their job, despite a “scary” feeling of holding that one-goal lead, their coach said.
“We’ve always kind of been the underdogs this year, since we graduated 10 seniors,” Trunzo said. ”These girls just stepped up, and they’re amazing.”
Esmond also praised junior midfielder Jenny Giampalmo for her work on defense.
Hereford (10-9) got going in the second half, and reeled off five consecutive penalty-corner attempts at one point. Glenelg’s defense stiffened, however, and kept he ball away from the cage.
The Bulls had a solid chance with 12:45 to play in the first half on a shot from Madison Hackett, but Barker turned it away and the game remained scoreless until Esmond’s goal.
Camryn Kelbaugh totaled 18 saves for Hereford in her final high school game.
The Bulls made their sixth consecutive state championship game appearance after edging Liberty in overtime in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Glenelg cruised past Kent Island to reach the final.
Trunzo said not much was spoken about facing a quality opponent such as Hereford. The Gladiators could win if they focused on fundamentals, their coach said. Glenelg finished with 14 corners to Hereford’s seven.
“We just wanted to keep possession of the ball and finish, like anybody else would want to do,” Trunzo said. “No matter how many corners you get, if the score is still 1-0, it’s a lot of pressure on the defense. We just kept trying to possess and finish.”
And the chances of an increase in Snapchat followers for Esmond and her teammates?
“Hopefully a lot,” she said. “We’ll see.”