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No. 9 Atholton field hockey hands No. 4 Hereford its first loss in 3A title game

For the past three years, No. 9 Atholton has heard about Glenelg being the best team in Howard County, as well as one of the best in the state.

After Glenelg won its third straight state title earlier in the day, the Raiders won their first-ever state championship with a 2-1 victory over Hereford, handing the Bulls their first loss of the season.

"Glenelg, they're making us better," Atholton goalie Emily Clinch said after a nine-save performance. "They're our rival and we love them."

The Raiders (15-2) had been to the finals twice in the past, in 1980 and 2008, but never won.

Atholton took the lead with 11:53 to play in the first half when junior forward Rachel Day's initial shot rebounded to senior forward Briana Stine, who beat Hereford goalie Jessie Lynch (six saves) for the 1-0 lead.

The Raiders kept the pressure on, and Day found the inside of the net 2:19 later for a 2-0 lead.

With 3:08 gone in the second half, Hereford's Mary Claire Abbott scored to make it 2-1.

"At that point, I felt I had to change what we did," Atholton coach Martie Dyer said. "I felt they were very strong and that we needed to be more defensive. So I moved Sheila O'Malley [a senior defender] further back. Usually she plays up, but I felt we needed her in the back and it worked."

Still, Hereford kept attacking and with 4:22 left it appeared Layne Litsinger had scored for the Bulls to tie, but the officials waved off the goal.

Hereford coach Tammy Mundie said the game official told her "the ball wasn't touched" in the circle.

"But then he gave us a long hit," she said. "If it wasn't touched, it should have been their ball. What does that tell you? Still, it was just one call. We played an awesome game. I couldn't ask for more. Atholton came out to play."

Class 3A state championship

No. 9 Atholton 2, No. 4 Hereford 1

Goals: A - Stine, Day. H - MCAbbott. Assists: A - Day. H - Hoover. Corners: A - 8, H - 9. Saves: A - Clinch 6. H - Lynch 9. Halftime: Atholton 2-0

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