When Hereford's girls lacrosse team defeated Catonsville, 19-9, in their regular-season meeting last month, the game was much closer than the 10-goal outcome would indicate.
The No. 14 Bulls went into Saturday's Baltimore County championship rematch expecting the score to be much closer and it was — until early in the second half.
The teams started the game with a defensive battle, but once the host Bulls broke through, they cruised to a 15-4 victory.
Hereford won three of the first four draws in the second half and Isabella Peterson scored three of her four goals in a 4-0 run that gave the Bulls a 9-2 lead with 18:07 to go.
Kolby Weedon stopped the Bulls' momentum briefly with an extra-man free-position goal to pull within six, but the Bulls answered with four more goals. Lily Cavallaro's free-position goal with 3:33 left boosted the lead to 13-3.
The Comets (10-4) had a lot of trouble contending with six-footers Peterson and Kylie Knause on attack, where Knause added five goals, and on draw controls.
Although draws were nearly even in the first half, Knause took them in the second half and the Bulls won eight of 12.
Controlling the draws helped the Bulls score in quick succession. Their first three goals of the second half came within two minutes and their later four-goal run also came in less than two minutes.
"We try to use our height to our advantage and get it really high so we can jump and reach it," Knause said of the draws. "Then it turns into a fast break on attack and we get a quick goal."
For the Comets and center Leah Marshall, the trick is to keep it low and turn it into a 50-50 ball, said Catonsville coach Cantey Bailey.
"You try to make sure they can't get it straight up out of the air and then getting that ground ball, just those three in the circle working together," she said.
In a game that started at 10 a.m. because Catonsville had its prom Saturday night, the Comets scored first on Marshall's free-position goal. Hereford junior attacker Libby May said the Bulls (12-1) weren't bothered by that.
"We said that anything can happen at counties and that we need to come in strong and not too cocky but confident and we just needed to try harder," said May, who scored three goals.
The veteran Bulls also recalled that the past two county championships had been close. They fell to Dulaney, 14-13, in last year's title game on a goal with 4.9 seconds left. The year before, the Bulls defeated the Lions, 10-9.
Last week, the Bulls dropped their regular-season game to Dulaney, 10-9 while Catonsville had beaten the Lions, 8-7, earlier in the season. Hereford coach Anne Ensor that helped her team refocus after going undefeated to that point.
"You try to make something good out of something bad, which in sports is a loss," Ensor said. "I think the girls got their come-uppance in that game and that really helped them coming into this game. They came in highly-motivated."
Both teams will find out Monday where they will be seeded for the state playoffs. Catonsville will play in Class 4A and Herford in Class 2A as the state expands from three to four classifications for the first time. Sectional quarterfinals begin Wednesday.
Baltimore County championship
No. 14 Hereford 15, Catonsville 4
Goals: C—Marshall 2, K.Weedon, Wrisk; H—Knause 5, Peterson 4, May 3, Blair 2, L.Cavallaro. Assists: H—L. Cavallaro 2, Peterson, Blair. Saves: C—A. Weedon 3; H—Posner 2, Swope 2. Half: H, 5-2.