Long before the opening draw of Wednesday's Baltimore County girls lacrosse showdown between rivals Dulaney and Hereford, Dulaney head coach Kristi Korrow was already struggling with her voice, as she was clearly under the weather physically.
By evening's end, however, Korrow was feeling much better as her unranked Lions turned in an outstanding effort in upsetting the 13th-ranked Bulls, 15-10, in Parkton, pulling away from its long-time nemesis in the second half.
Leading 7-6 at the half, the Lions scored seven of the first eight goals of the second half to take a 14-7 lead with just 7 minutes, 1 second remaining in the contest and despite a late surge, Hereford never really threatened the Lions' lead.
"Hereford, it's always a battle with them," said Korrow, whose team lost twice to Hereford in 2016 despite going on to win a state championship. "They are a very well coached team and they've always got players. So, we knew coming up here was going to be a battle and they certainly pushed us. It's never a game you feel comfortable in because both teams are battling the whole time."
Dulaney started quickly as junior Casey O'Grady netted a transition feed from Kaitlyn Dabkowski, just 49 seconds into the contest and, before the game was seven minutes old, the Lions jumped up 3-0. Dubkowski added a free position score and junior Julia Strauch converted an assist from sophomore Mae Dickens.
Hereford put together its best stretch of night over the next seven-plus minutes, as the Bulls scored five of six goals to go up 5-4 with 7 minutes, 33 seconds to play. Sophomore Isabella Peterson and junior Kylie Nause each scored twice in that surge.
If doubts were creeping in for the Lions, they did not show it. Dulaney responded with three consecutive goals of their own and went to the half with a 7-6 lead.
"It's been the rivalry of the County for the last three years I've been here," said O'Grady who finished with two goals and four assists. "We always come out to play against Hereford and I know they do to. It's always a great game, really close, just really great play, so we always step our game for that and play well."
According to Dabkowski, who also had two goals and four assists, the Lions had this game circled.
"It was a hard fought game on both sides, definitely. We were just gunning for it," said Dabkowski. "Last year, winning states we still lost to them twice, in regular season and in Counties, so we really just had that drive and I think we came in really hot in the second half and just finished strong."
The Lions finished strong indeed.
Dulaney scored the first two goals of the second stanza to re-establish its earlier three goal lead. Hereford got one back on an extra-man situation, but the Lions countered that with a short-handed tally to start a streak of five straight scores, putting them in full command.
Bridget Kelly finished with a hat-trick for the Lions, Lipstein had two goals and two assists and Strauch and Sara Paetow each scored twice. In addition, Dickens and Maggie Kelly each added a goal and an assist. In goal, Hannah Slomkowski and Madison Hine each played a half and both finished with eight saves.
"It was a great, great team effort today," said Korrow. "We had eight different scorers and five different girls that fed and had assists. I thought defense really pulled it together there in the second half and started making some big plays, along with both of our goalies. I am very, very proud of how they played and kept composure."
Freshman Anna Brandt scored three times to lead Hereford, while Nause and and Isabella Peterson scored twice each. Caroline Peterson, Gracie Sanders and Libby May scored once each for the Bulls and Graeme Eber had three assists.
Hereford coach Anne Ensor felt her squad had some execution lapses on offense and fell victim to a couple of hot goalies.
"I'm hoping we will see them again in Counties," said Ensor. "There's lots to learn from this game and I think their goalies played very well and we did not have great shot selection."
Ensor also commented on the rivalry.
"The games have always been close and I think, even with a five goal lead, they were probably weren't comfortable until we got under five minutes, but it's fun to watch a well-played game where every single kid on the field is going hard. You still end up with some mistakes, but they made mistakes going big and I am OK with that."
With the win, Dulaney (6-3 overall) moves to 6-0 in Baltimore County's Division I. Hereford (10-3 overall) fell to 5-1 in the league, a game back of the Lions. As the players and coaches on both sides alluded, most likely these two teams will face each other again in the Baltimore County championship game.
DULANEY 15, NO. 13 HEREFORD 10
DUL 7 8 — 15
HER 6 4 — 10
GOALS: DUL-B. Kelly 3, O'Grady 2, Dabkowski 2, Strauch 2, Paetow 2, Lipstein 2, Dickens 1, M. Kelly 1; HER-Brandt 3, Nause 2, I. Peterson 2, C. Peterson 1, May 1, Sanders 1.
ASSISTS: DUL-O'Grady 4, Dubkowski 4, Lipstein 2, Dickens 1, M. Kelly 1; HER-Eber 3, C. Peterson 1.
SAVES: DUL-Hine 8, Slomkowski 8; HER-Swope 4.