COLLEGE PARK -- Hereford's field hockey team walked off the field a year ago after falling to Patuxent in a state semifinal shootout, vowing to come back and win the championship this year.
Last night, the No. 11 Bulls made good on that promise, scoring two early goals that held up for a 2-0 victory over No. 10 Glenelg for their third state Class 2A title in six years at the University of Maryland's field hockey and lacrosse complex.
"That [loss] drove the season for sure," Bulls coach Tammy Mundie said. "That's what they talked about the first day of practice and what they talked about the last day of practice."
Said defender Mandy Pace: "We were really mad about that loss, so we talked about what we were going to do better next year and we started planning. We just really wanted it."
The Bulls, who dominated but did not score a goal against Patuxent in regulation or overtime, wasted no time on offense last night. Lindsay Riordon scored seven minutes into the game and Lauren Meadowcroft made it 2-0 with 13:43 left before halftime.
"Getting the lead helped us out and gave us confidence," said Meadowcroft, who also assisted on Riordon's goal. "But when you see two points on the scoreboard, it's still 0-0 to us. We want to go out there and score as much as we can."
For the rest of the game, the Bulls (13-3-1) played to boost their lead and shut out the Gladiators (12-5-2). Goalie Sam Bergman made eight saves, and defenders Stephanie Hammond and Kaitlyn Dziewanowski each made a save on the goal line.
The Gladiators are still looking for their first state title. They have lost in the final three times, all to Hereford - in 1979, 2004 and 2006.
Last week, the Gladiators fell behind 1-0 against Winters Mill in the state semifinal, but they rallied to win, 3-1. But last night, the Gladiators had trouble countering the speedy Bulls' short passing game on the quick artificial turf.
"They knew where to go, who to pass it to every time. Hereford's a really good team. They've been here a lot and they didn't mess around in the circle at all," said Gladiators defender Amber Yanulevich, who kept the game from going to 3-0 with a goal-line save on a shot that got behind keeper Courtney Knill late in the first half.
For the Bulls, who have played for the title six of the past nine years, this crown came with strong performances all over the field.
"These last two weeks, especially in the Kent Island game, our team has really started to click," said Meadowcroft of the 6-1 state semifinal victory.