Liberty senior Brooke Heffler talks about her team's state semifinal loss to Hereford.
Advancing to the Class 2A state final is a difficult task, and Liberty learned that lesson Wednesday night at Broadneck High School, where three-time defending state champion Hereford edged the Lions 1-0 in overtime in a state semifinal.
Forward Taylor Hackett scored with 3:22 remaining for the Bulls.
Mackenzie McKillop found Hackett with a pass near the left post and the senior’s hard shot went into the right corner past junior goalie Grace Fenner.
Hereford (11-8) advances to play Glenelg in state final Saturday at Washington College in Chestertown.
The Bulls probably wondered if they would be able to get there with the way Fenner played.
She finished with 18 saves and had four saves in the 10-minute overtime, which featured seven-on-seven play.
Liberty (14-4) had to play a man down for five minutes in the overtime with Meghan Huey receiving a yellow card. But Fenner shined.
“She is a phenomenal goalie and overtime she was the defense,” said Liberty coach Brenda Strohmer, whose team won a Class 1A state championship last year. “She made the saves she typically makes. She is that good.”
Hereford held an advantage in shots (22-7) and penalty corners (11-4). The Bulls had eight of those corners in the second half.
“I think we dominated offensively, but we weren’t really able to really execute,” Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall said. “They had a great goalie. We weren’t putting the ball in the back of the net and taking advantage of those opportunities. We finally got one in.”
Liberty pressured Hereford early in the second half with three penalty corners in about three minutes.
The Lions best opportunity to score during that stretch came when Camryn Kelbaugh turned aside Branin Ward’s shot from about 15 yards out.
Then Hereford reeled off six consecutive penalty corners in less than six minutes and Fenner made three saves, including a point-blank attempt from Anna Brandt with 17:50 to go.
A minute into the game, Liberty threatened to score on a penalty corner, but Hereford defender Brooke Overmier blocked attacker Brooke Heffler’s shot just inside the 16-yard circle.
For the next 15 minutes, Hereford tested Liberty’s defense of Fenner, seniors Erin Risch and Fallon Spitttel, and sophomore Christine Goetz, with five shots. Fenner made a nice save to thwart a Hereford scoring opportunity seven minutes into play.