The last seven times the Hereford field hockey team had won a Baltimore County championship game, they defeated Dulaney, but on Tuesday night at Catonsville High Dulaney senior Reece Spann made sure that didn't happen when she scored 2:40 into the first overtime lifting the Lions (14-1) to a 4-3 victory.
It was Dulaney's first county field hockey title since 2013, when they defeated Catonsville, 2-1.
In every other championship game, since 2009, Dulaney lost to Hereford.
Spann was a sophomore on the 2015 squad that lost 1-0.
"We were definitely a little anxious and nervous because during my sophomore year, we beat Hereford twice during the regular season and then we lost in the counties, so it was a really frustrating game, so we were super excited to be able to beat them three times when it counts," Spann said.
"We had not beaten them three times in a year," Dulaney coach Kellie Fialcowitz said.
Spann, who also scored an unassisted goal early in the second, half wasn't really intent on shooting when she scored the game winner after receiving a pass from Maggie Kelly.
"Maggie was towards the middle of the field and she passed it wide to me and I was really just hoping to send it in and get a stick on it or a corner or something," Spann said. "I didn't really have a plan, but it hit off a defender's shinguard and went in."
The goal ended an offensive showcase with both teams answering each other's tallies.
Hereford (6-7) struck first, just over five minutes into the game, after a hard shot by Mackenzie McKillop was stopped by Dulaney freshman goalie Allie Mercer initially. Taylor Hackett shot the rebound off Mercer's pads before hitting the back of the cage with a follow-up shot.
Dulaney tied it 1-1 on a goal by Casey O'Grady, off a Kelly assist with 15:46 left in the first half.
After a shot by Madeleine Palumbo was saved by Mercer, and another by Hackett leaked wide, Dulaney gained a 2-1 advantage on a goal by Kelly with 9:18 left until intermission.
Hereford tied the game 2-2 on a penalty stroke goal by McKillop.
The Bulls had five penalty corners, in the final three minutes of the half, but couldn't get the go-ahead goal.
The Bulls best scoring chance off the corners came with 1:15 left, but McKillop's shot was cleared by Dulaney defender Grace Jung.
Hereford wasted no time getting the lead in the second half when Hackett, a senior, scored her second goal of the night, off an assist from her younger sister, sophomore Madison Hackett, just 72 seconds after halftime.
Dulaney got even 22 seconds later on Spann's unassisted goal.
"Someone sent it to me and I just pulled right and I just drove with the ball and just sort of slid it past the goalie," Spann said.
"We need to learn not to sit back and relax after we score a goal," Hereford coach Caitlin Duvall said. "It did kind of take the wind out of our sails for a little bit."
Being behind twice was not a surprise for Dulaney coach Fialcowitz.
"One thing I will say about this team over any other team I've had is we've been down multiple times this season and have come back, which is not traditionally something we've been good at and we've been able to do that," she said. "They have the confidence to know that we can answer back."
The coach also had confidence they would be prepared for overtime.
"We focus a ton on conditioning and I really believe if it comes down to it, we can control overtime because we are in such good shape," Fialcowitz said.
Before Spann's game-winning goal, Hereford goalie Sydney Lippe had saves on shots by Kelly and O'Grady and she diverted a dangerous cross by Spann.
Spann's next touch ended the game and the streak against Hereford.
"It's really a relief and I think this win just means so much to us because they have taken it away from us these last three years and they are our rivals and it just means a lot to beat them because it seems like they are always the team we sort of fear," Spann said.
There is reason to fear Hereford, considering they have won the past three state titles under Duvall.
"Dulaney always brings their best game and they played great and they really executed when they needed to," Duvall said. "We are definitely working on that [offensive] part of our game. We are able to put the ball in the back of the net, we've just got to organize our defense really quickly and get that cleaned up before we go to the playoffs."
Anything for Dulaney in the regional and state playoffs will be gravy after a season in which they won 14 games in a row since a season-opening 4-2 loss to C. Milton Wright.
"I have all these great athletes that are great hockey players as well, but they just play well together," Fialcowitz said. "It's been a blast of a season."
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Photos by John Bowers