As the only senior starters on Towson's field hockey team, Emma Leslie and Carolina Michocki have been around for a lot of losses to Hereford - during the regular season and in the regional playoffs.
Yesterday, the two veterans helped the young Generals finally begin to turn things around. Leslie led a strong defensive effort and Michocki scored a goal as the Generals topped the Bulls, 4-0, in a Baltimore County Heron Division game.
"Hereford always beats all of our teams in regionals and they always beat us during the season, so we were like, 'We have to win this,' " said Leslie. "Everyone was so pumped. We even practiced [Tuesday] in the rain."
The Generals (8-1 overall, 6-0 division) struck quickly yesterday, scoring the first goal in less than two minutes. On a solid left-to-right cross from Erin Walsch, Jocelyn Paul waited on the far post to slip the ball behind Bulls goalie Christina Restivo.
The rest of the game, however, wasn't nearly as lopsided as the final score. The Bulls (4-4, 4-2) dominated possession in the first half, but Towson took advantage of its scoring opportunities while the Bulls could not finish.
On back-to-back penalty corners midway through the half, the Bulls challenged but could not get a clear shot. Once the Generals cleared the ball, they countered quickly. Maggie Dolan carried the ball down field and fired it into the circle, where Walsch deflected it to Michocki for the goal.
The Bulls, on the brink of a 1-1 tie 20 seconds earlier, now faced a 2-0 deficit in the first 19 minutes of the game.
"We just don't finish," said Bulls coach Tammy Mundie, whose team matched the Generals with eight corners but was outshot 8-4. "That's what's missing from last year to this year, from the year before to this year. They just haven't found it yet."
The Generals added two more goals in the second half, both on corner plays. Hayley Mershon scored on a corner pass from Emily Kolarik with 21:15 left, and Walsch converted a pass from Mershon with 1:21 to go.
For a Towson squad that finished 7-7-1 last season, this fall has marked quite a turnaround. Their only loss has been to No. 1 St. Paul's.
"This year we're playing like a team," said Michocki. "Last year, everyone was an individual and they were playing for themselves. When we play as a team, we can accomplish so much more than when you play by yourself."