PASADENA — Century lacrosse coach Becky Groves said she knew Hereford was a good team, capable of just about anything. A matter of how good was to be determined, until Friday night.
The Bulls appeared in their first state tournament since 2015 and certainly played to their potential. With smooth transitions and a lot of speed, Hereford cruised past Century 15-4 in the Class 2A state semifinal at Northeast High School.
Hereford (16-2) will face Glenelg or Kent Island in the final next week at Stevenson University
“Hereford just showed how good of a team they were tonight,” Groves said. “I thought they were faster, more athletic, and better lacrosse players today. I thought we did a good job fighting back but they’re really good.”
The Baltimore County champions haven’t won a state crown since 2003, but they’re on a roll now. The Bulls outscored their previous playoff opponents, Edmondson-Westside and Eastern Tech, 36-3 to advance to the state semifinals.
Century, on the other hand, is no stranger to the state tourney. The Knights returned to Northeast for the first time since facing county foe Liberty in last year’s 2A-1A state semifinal — the 13th appearance, overall.
Hereford scored the first eight goals of the contest, four of which came in the first six minutes. Junior midfielder Isabella Peterson was responsible for three of those four early tallies.
The Knights garnered two free-position attempts midway through the first half. Freshman midfielder Maddie Bates faced an open net on her try, but shot wide. Grace Bruce took a shot, but hers went high. Freshman midfielder Demma Hall scored off a feed from Christina Haspert to get the Knights on the board with 6:30 left in the first half.
Bruce nailed a free-position tally to start the second half scoring and Hereford fired two more goals in before Bates squeezed one behind Bulls’ goalie Lindsay Posner with 17:07 left to play.
Kylie Nause netted three of her four goals in the second half and Peterson notched a fourth as the Bulls continued to press the Knights. Hereford won 14 draw controls and came up with 15 loose balls, and the Knights won six draws and controlled seven loose balls.
The Knights found the back of the net with 6:34 left to play when Hall tossed a pass up to Haspert, who snuck around from behind the goal to make a cut and finish the shot.
“I just think they got a lot more possessions than we did and we couldn’t really keep the ball,” Knight senior defender Kelsey Morrison said.
Morrison, one of the Knights’ four seniors, said the Knights entered the playoffs as a different team. They defeated South Carroll and Winters Mill in games each decided by one goal, and beat Middletown 17-7 to earn a spot in the state semis.
“It’s been an up-and-down battle, sophomore year wasn’t that good but we came out and won states last year, which was fun,” Morrison said. “I’m proud of us because we’re a young team and I’m the only senior on the field so I’m happy that we did pretty good this year.”
Groves is in her eighth year as the Knights’ coach and has led the team to six state tourney appearances.
“I think we grew a lot,” Groves said. “We lost Westminster and South Carroll in a row and we could have shut them down but that pushed us to get better. I’m proud of everybody that continued to work and work and work. Getting to the state semifinals, there’s not many teams that can say that and we had to really fight to get out of our section and I think we did that.”
Goals: C-Grace Bruce, Maddie Bates, Christina Haspert, Demma Hall; H-Kylie Nause 4, Libby May 4, Katie Blair 4, Isabella Peterson 4, Grace Clarke, Bella Cavallaro.
Assists: C-Hall 2; H-May 3, Blair 2, Peterson 2, Clarke 3
Saves: C-5 (Claire Hollinger); H-none.
Halftime: Hereford, 9-1.