Mount Hebron's field hockey team has out-cornered nearly every opponent this season, but the No. 15 Vikings usually had to find some other way to win -- until the playoffs.
Yesterday, Katie Jeschke scored the game-winner on a penalty corner as the Vikings edged Hereford, 2-1, in a state Class 2A semifinal at Goucher College. The senior nailed a drive past lunging Bulls goalie Christina Restivo into the right corner of the cage.
The goal broke a 1-1 tie and sent the Vikings (11-5-2) to the state final for the second time in three years. In a rematch of the 1997 final, the Vikings will meet four-time defending champ Bethesda-Chevy Chase, a 7-0 winner over Parkside yesterday, at 2 p.m. Saturday at Goucher.
After scoring all of their goals on corners in a 3-1 regional first-round win over then-No. 6 Catonsville, the Vikings have shown more confidence in their corner plays. Liz Eberhart, the Vikings' emotional leader who scored their first goal yesterday, knew Jeschke could score off the corner.
"Right before the corner," Jeschke said, "Liz said to me, 'I'm tired of this. Just stop it and put it in.' I had confidence in myself that if no one else was going to do it, I was. I really wanted to prove to everyone that we could pull it out."
Jeschke did exactly what Eberhart wanted her to do. She stopped Leigh Langmead's corner hit near the top of the circle and drove it hard into the cage with 6: 25 remaining in the game.
The Bulls (9-6-1), who shared the state Class 1A title last year, had a few chances in the waning minutes -- including Jen Marsteller's cross that sailed untouched across the front of the goal mouth -- but they could not connect.
Although the teams battled scoreless through the first 41 minutes, the Vikings clearly had the edge. Except for a near miss when Kim Dean could not catch up to a ball Marsteller sent past the left post, the Bulls sat back and played defensively.
"We're known for hustling and going to the ball," said Hereford coach Tammy Mundie, "but we didn't do that for the first 30 minutes. It took Mount Hebron scoring a goal before we realized we can't play hockey like that."
Eberhart scored the first goal with 18: 22 left on a drive similar to Jeschke's, taking a pass from Sara Cavey, stopping it and slamming it past Restivo.
"I saw the loose ball and no one was around me," said Eberhart. "I said to myself, 'Please, don't mess up.' I stopped it and hit it and it went right into the corner."
That goal finally stirred the Bulls' offense, as it drove immediately into the Vikings' circle for the first time in the half. Lindsay Roberts took a shot with 17: 45 to go, but Vikings goalie Katelyn Hoffman stopped it.
The Bulls then had three straight penalty corners. Marsteller scored off the third one, assisted by Jodi Anderson's hit out. That tied the game at 1-1 with 12: 06 to go.