Hereford girls soccer team has two seniors. Last night, both showed that there's no substitute for experience and leadership.
Senior Jen Cox scored on a first-half penalty kick, and senior Paige Nichol added another goal in overtime as visiting Hereford (10-1-2) defeated Loch Raven, 2-1, to win the Baltimore County championship.
The victory avenged a 2-0 loss to Loch Raven in last season's title match.
"They have been our captains and our leaders all year," said Hereford coach Steve Power of Cox and Nichol. "We have a young team, and I left a lot of the leadership to them. They were the ones who stepped forward and told the other girls: 'This is how you do it.' "
Judging by last night, it looked like the young Bulls must have been paying attention.
Sophomore Hollis Botti was fouled in the goal box, and Cox put in the resulting penalty kick to give Herford a 1-0 lead with 19: 17 gone in the first half.
Almost immediately, Loch Raven (10-4-1) responded. Sophomore Christin Krejcik's corner bounced around the box before Ashley Sudbrook's line drive evened the score at 1-1 with 20: 51 gone in the first half.
The score remained tied throughout the second half, and Hereford dominated much of the play.
With a little over a minute left in the first overtime, junior Sarah Stoltz's corner found Nichol, whose header from about 12 yards gave Herford the sudden-death win.
"Before we scored, I told [my teammates] that this is it, we're gonna score. We have to go all out now," Nichol said. "It feels great to pull together as a team and to finally beat them."
"Paige is a warrior," Power said. "She's so intense, and I think that was a big plus for us tonight."
Loch Raven coach Mike Parker was disappointed in the result, but not in the effort of his team.
"It was a great game. I'd like to point to something that we didn't do that we should have, but there really isn't anything," Parker said. "I told my team that we had nothing to be ashamed of. I also told them that with the draw in the regionals, there's a good chance we could face them again in two weeks."
Power praised the Raiders' effort on defense, which shut down the Bulls' leader scorer, Botti.
"I thought they did a great job on us," he said. "We had trouble getting our offense in sync, and most of that was due to their defense. [Krejcik] held Hollis in check all night."
"We set three goals when the season began," Power said. "One was to win our division, another was to win the county, and the third was to win the states. We're two-thirds of the way there, but now we have to climb the tallest mountain of them all."