Allison Dulin started on last year's state-champion Hereford field hockey team, but last night, she said she was prouder of this year's team even though it will not win another state crown.
A Cinderella season for the rebuilt Bulls ended in a state Class 2A semifinal shootout with Patuxent last night at South River. After dominating regulation and 20 minutes of overtime that ended in a scoreless tie, the Bulls fell, 2-1, in the shootout to their Calvert County foes.
The Panthers (12-2) will play Parkside for the title Monday at 5 p.m. at the University of Maryland field hockey complex in College Park.
Nonetheless, Dulin and her teammates walked off the field with smiles on their faces after Hereford's 16th appearance in the state tournament.
"I told them this is the fourth Hereford team I've been on and I've never been so proud of a team, because no one expected anything of us," said the senior midfielder, one of only two returning starters.
"[At the beginning of the season], I felt like I was on the field by myself, and now it's Hereford hockey. We played amazing. We got so many shots. We totally dominated and the team has just grown more than any other team that I've ever been on."
The Bulls (10-4-2) outshot the Panthers 10-3 in regulation and 9-0 in two 10-minute, seven-on-seven overtime periods. Panthers goalie Whitney Thomas made 12 saves in regulation and stopped three penalty strokes in the shootout, in which five girls from each team alternate shots.
For Thomas, the key play in the shootout was the first save, made against Dulin's shot to the lower left of the cage. Dulin said she wanted the shot to go high, but she didn't get enough power behind it, and Thomas made the stick save.
"That first save just gives you a confidence boost to know you can do it," said Thomas, a senior. "Your team's behind you every second, every step of the way and it pumps them up for you to stop the shot."
Patuxent's Mary Strain and Hereford's Emma Ardolino traded goals before the next two shooters missed wide. Tasha Klares then gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
Thomas and Hereford goalie Sam Bergman each followed with a save, and the shootout came down to the final two shooters. Thomas blocked a shot by the Bulls' Celeste DiFerdinando, clinching the victory for the Panthers in their first trip to the state tournament.