When the Hereford and Catonsville boys lacrosse teams squared off in late April, the Comets had a rough go of it while yielding the game’s first 12 goals in the Bulls’ 15-4 romp.
The first quarter of Monday’s Baltimore County championship game between the same rivals started in a similar fashion, with Hereford bolting to a 5-0 advantage on two goals by Baylor Davis one each by fellow senior attackman Trey Gibbons and junior midfielders JP Revitte and Brenden Kittner heading into the second quarter.
This time, though, Catonsville would gird itself for a comeback, mustering just enough offense and tightening up its defense to make Hereford work for an 11-10 victory.
Having lost the county crown to Catonsville in overtime last year, it was sweet for the Bulls (11-2) to reclaim the title on their home turf Monday, even if it did take a big effort to finally snuff the Comets’ rally.
“When you get that good of a result against a good team, you’re almost nervous to see them again,” Hereford coach Kyle Leppert said. “To get your guys to refocus and work hard, that’s a challenge of its own.”
Leppert said that Catonsville made adjustments in order to carve into the early deficit.
“They picked up offensively,” he said. “They dug in, they were on the move, they were passing sharply, they were taking good shots. They definitely got on a little tear there and started to pick up momentum. We had to find a way to get back into it.”
Catonsville produced its own five-goal quarter, with senior midfielder Natham Wess finding the net twice and junior attackman Noah Kennedy, senior attackman Eric Kapla and junior defender John Gorski following suit.
Goals by Gibbons and Kittner helped the Bulls to build a 7-5 halftime bulge.
Sophomore attackman Colin Fox cut Hereford’s lead to 7-6 until Davis, Gibbons and Kittner gave the Bulls a 10-6 cushion with just over four minutes remaining in the third period.
Kaplan got the Comets (8-5) rolling again when he converted a pass from junior attackman Toby Eveleth with 48 seconds remaining in the quarter.
They crept back to within 10-9 on goals by Wess and Kennedy with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, yet were unable to prevent Davis from powering in his game-high fourth goal a minute later.
Catonsville made it a one-goal game again on Kennedy’s goal and had ample time — over six minutes — to earn a deadlock.
Unfortunately for the Comets, a pair of unforced turnovers on clears in the final minutes helped Hereford to prevail.
“We tried to work a little bit more in the half field,” Leppert said about his team’s ability to hold on for its eighth straight win. “Just trying to keep possession while the defense gets a breath from being on their heels a bit there.”
Kittner, who had a game-best six points (3 goals, 3 assists), said that he knew the Comets would come out with fire after being rocked in the previous encounter.
“Our coach told us before the game to keep our foot on the pedal,” he said. “We scored the first four of five goals, and we thought we had a comfort zone and that it might have been like the first game, but they fired back and we responded every time they responded. It was nice to get back to sweeping them after they swept us last year.”
Catonsville coach KR Schultz said it is fun watching his team grow throughout the season.
“Our focus is on doing better every day, and we’re doing just that,” he said. “Shout out to the seniors, They’ve been busting their butts to get us back here. They’ve been leading us all year, and they’re doing a great job of it.”
Catonsville will open the Class 3A playoffs with a regional semifinal Friday while the Bulls get a double bye into the regional final next Monday in the 2A bracket.
BALTIMORE COUNTY BOYS LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
HEREFORD 11, CATONSVILLE 10
Catonsville 0 5 3 2 — 10
Hereford 5 2 3 1 — 11
Goals: C-Noah Kennedy 3, Nathan Wess 3, Eric Kaplan 2, John Gorski, Colin Fox; H-Baylor Davis 4, Brenden Kittner 3, Trey Gibbons 3, JP Revitte.
Assists: C-Natahn Wess, Maxwell Gentner, Toby Eveleth; H-Brenden Kittner 3, Connor Hartlove 2, JP Revitte, Trey Gibbons.
Saves: C-Gabe Wallman 6; Cole Jedlicka 6.