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Hereford field hockey back in Baltimore County title game

Hereford's Emma Vicchio fires on a shot at Towson goalie Jamesy Wood during the Bulls' 1-0 victory on Oct. 8.
Hereford's Emma Vicchio fires on a shot at Towson goalie Jamesy Wood during the Bulls' 1-0 victory on Oct. 8. (Scott Serio, for The Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The unthinkable happened to the powerhouse Hereford field hockey team last year: The Bulls failed to qualify for the Baltimore County championship game. It was stunning to Bulls' fans because Hereford had won five titles from 2008-2012.

"We didn't have to talk about it," Hereford first-year field hockey coach Caitlin MacKenzie said. "We all knew about it."

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The Bulls have let their play on the field speak, going 11-1-1 and making it back to the county championship game. Hereford will play Dulaney Thursday at Woodlawn High (7 p.m.).

Hereford beat Dulaney, 2-1, in overtime Sept. 22.

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The Bulls — ranked No. 13 in the Baltimore Sun girls high school poll — have been determined to move on after last year's 12-5-1 record and a 2-0 loss to Century in the Class 2A state final.

"They are like sponges," MacKenzie said. "They are just learning and asking great questions every day during practice. They really want to get better. That's what a championship does."

MacKenzie is leaning heavily on eight seniors, Santana Mays, Emma Vicchio, Emily Palumbo, Maddie Hoover, Emily Palumbo, Maggie Gutherlet, Ashley Treadwell and Lucy Reider.

"I think we have a lot of different personalities with our seniors," MacKenzie said. "They certainly contribute something on and off the field. They are spread out all over the field regarding the positions they play. That's great. And when one of the seniors is having a bad day, another picks them up and takes over the leadership role."

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The Bulls' solid junior class includes two starters, Rachel Karwacki and Meredith Joyce, and two reserves, Haley Jolly and Grace Pfarr. Karwacki, who scored Hereford's goal in a 1-0 victory over Towson on Oct. 8, says the team chemistry is outstanding.

"This team is just so close right now," Karwacki said. "Everyone just really works together. And we are just so skilled."

MacKenzie has been pleased with the production of Gutberlet (10 goals), Jolly (9) and sophomore Emma Reider (6). She would like to see more balance on offense.

"We have definitely been working on scoring early and often," she said. "So that way we can just set the tone early and play our hockey from the start."

Hereford's defense is anchored by Vicchio and Palumbo in front of goalie Mays. The Bulls have eight shutouts and given up four goals all season.

Tammy Mundie, who MacKenzie replaced as coach after four years as her assistant, likes what she sees.

"Caitlin undoubtedly inherited an established and strong program, but it's a program that she helped to build and sustain in recent years," said Mundie, the program's coach for 20 years. "So I give her all the credit for the success of the program this year."

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