Burtonsville — The Hereford field hockey team ended No. 1 Glenelg’s magical ride in the Class 2A state semifinals, as sophomore forward Mackenzie McKillop scored early in the first half to give the No. 7 Bulls a 1-0 victory over the Gladiators at Paint Branch High.
It was Glenelg’s first loss in 17 games.
“This was a huge victory for us,” said Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall, whose team was outshot, 16-4. “Glenelg was the team to beat this season, and they had a fantastic season. We just got lucky with one break.”
The two-time defending Class 2A state champion Bulls advance to play Kent Island, a 5-1 winner over Manchester Valley Monday in the other semifinal, in the final on Saturday.
Game time is 1:30 p.m. at Washington College in Chestertown.
“It’s a very rare opportunity, and it would be pretty incredible to do it,” Duvall said of winning three consecutive titles. “I think it would mean a lot for this season class. They’ve been part of this for the past two years, so I think that’s uncommon in the field hockey world.”
Glenelg wasted no time in testing Hereford All-State goalie Camryn Kelbaugh and defenders Madison Hackett, Dana Meehling and Gracie Sanders.
Kelbaugh saved Laney Treacy’s blistering shot off a penalty corner in the third minute and, 30 seconds later, she also turned away Jenny Giampalmo’s attempt.
McKillop, who had three goals in Hereford’s 3-0 victory over Dulaney in the Baltimore County championship Oct. 24, scored about seven minutes into play.
Kailyn Brandt’s crossing pass from just inside the 16-yard circle went off of Glenelg goalie Kaylin Craine’s pad and to McKillop, who knocked it into the back of cage from a yard out for her 12th goal of the season.
“Since the moment I saw her this morning at 7 a.m., she was ready to go,” Duvall said. “I really had high hopes for her today.”
The way Kelbaugh was playing, the lone goal loomed large as she saved back-to-back point blank shots from senior Gabby Rachuba with about 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
“We just couldn’t finish,” Glenelg first-year coach Nikki Trunzo said. “And we weren’t connecting. I think nerves hit us a little bit.”
The score remained the same after Craine stopped Taylor Hackett’s scorching 10-yard shot and Kelbaugh (15 saves) denied successive rapid-fire shots from Grace Olson and Leanne Duncan.
Although the Gladiators outshot Hereford, 10-4, in the first half and held a 3-0 advantage in penalty corners, solving Kelbaugh proved to be a difficult assignment.
Their best scoring opportunity came five minutes into the second half off a penalty corner, but Kelbaugh stonewalled Duncan’s booming 12-yard shot.
Glenelg continued to control play in the middle of the half, recording three penalty corners in less than a minute only to watch Kelbaugh make two saves during that stretch.
A Hereford time out with 11:37 remaining seemed to slow Glenelg down.
The Gladiators managed only one shot the rest of the way as Treacy’s attempt was deflected wide of the goal by a defender.
“Nothing can take away from what these girls did this season,” Trunzo said. “I think they were a special group of kids and things didn’t go our way today.”