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Coming off consecutive shutout losses, the Hereford girls soccer team was looking for any way to put the ball in the net as it tried to bounce back at Dulaney on Friday.
The No. 9 Bulls took a direct approach.
Playing on the Lions' bumpy, natural-grass field, Hereford constantly moved forward and was able to find enough seams in the home team's defense to pull out a 3-2 win in Baltimore County play.
Senior Rachel Saunders scored twice — including the game-winner with 23:42 to play — for the Bulls (10-2).
After scoring 59 goals in winning their first nine games, the Bulls fell to Baltimore County foes Perry Hall (2-0 on Oct. 5) and Towson (1-0 on Wednesday) to hit an untimely spell that will keep them from defending their Baltimore County title. Saunders, who has three goals and six assists this season, was happy to provide the offense for the team to get back on track.
"It felt good because it felt like we were in [a drought] against Perry Hall and Towson, so getting three on the board was a big improvement and like getting back to where we were," she said.
Dulaney didn't make it easy.
The Lions started strong and were rewarded when Dimitriades put away a rebound on her own shot — originally taking a feed from Sammy White — to go up 1-0 in the 11th minute.
Settling in after being scored upon, the Bulls answered. All-Metro sophomore Payton Patrick made a strong run with the ball down the left side, winning the end line before sending a pass across for Shannon Francis to knock in to tie the game with 22:05 left in the half.
The Bulls took their first lead two minutes later when Lily Robertson sent a through ball to Saunders, who scored from 12 yards.
Tied at 2 after Paetow's goal early in the second half, Saunders made the difference with help from another run and service sent in by Patrick.
"We had to make some adjustments and try not to be too cute with the ball and just go right at them. So we played a little more direct, and a little ugly, but it's whatever it takes to get the ball in the goal," Hereford coach Brad Duvall said.
"Rachel worked all [Thursday] on getting forward to the ball when it was headed that way — anticipating — and she did a great job of reacting and getting herself into the final third while the balls were being served."
For a second straight game, the Lions took early leads and showed they could stay with a quality opponent — they fell to Perry Hall, 2-1, on Wednesday — but couldn't close out a win.
Coach Maurice Boylan Jr. said his Lions must be better with their final passes in the offensive end and keeping opponents marked at the other end.
He was impressed with his team's energy Friday and is confident the mistakes can be corrected in time for the playoffs.
"We don't think there's anybody in [Class] 4A — as I look at it — that we can't compete with," he said. "If we can compete with Perry Hall and Hereford — they're two big dogs, right? — so we just feel we can compete with anybody and we need to stop making mistakes and start doing all the little things that add up to goals."
Goals: H – Saunders 2, Francis; D – Dimitriades, Paetow. Assists: H – Robertson, Patrick 2; D – White, Brandt Saves: H – Griffin 3, D – Greten 6. Half: H, 2-1