The Towson girls lacrosse team appeared to be a little bit rattled in the early going of its game against long-time nemesis Hereford on Wednesday afternoon.

After all, the Generals hadn’t beaten the Bulls since 2016, and with a chance to take sole possession of first place in the Baltimore County Division I standings on the line, it’s easy to understand why the hosts might have been nervous.

Moreover, for most of the contest, the Bulls (6-3) played like a team from a program that has won the last four county crowns.

They gave Towson all it could ask for in a game that wasn’t really decided until the latter stages of the second half.

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That’s when the Generals (8-1), clinging to a 9-8 advantage after Hereford’s Katie Burks converted a feed from fellow junior midfielder Maya Antonakas, began to dominate on the circle. With senior midfielder Brigid Vaikness taking the draws and seniors Charlotte Ross Jillian McNulty and Mary Claire Huebeck, junior Lilywynn Holman and sophomore Finlay Harmon helping Vaikness to gain possession, Towson closed the game on a 5-0 run over the final six minutes, 25 seconds.

Senior attacker Avery Briggs (left) and senior midfielder Brigid Vaikness combined for eight goals in Towson’s 14-8 victory over Hereford on Wednesday.
Senior attacker Avery Briggs (left) and senior midfielder Brigid Vaikness combined for eight goals in Towson’s 14-8 victory over Hereford on Wednesday. (Nelson Coffin)

”Hereford and Dulaney are our two big rivals and we come out and we tend to play a little, like, timid and not want to make a mistake,” Towson coach Taylor Carhart aid. “I just told my girls to relax and have fun, and as soon as they do that, they’re an unstoppable team.”

Senior attacker Avery Briggs started the onslaught when she gathered in a McNulty pass and rifled a shot past Hereford freshman Grace Berquist. Sophomore attacker Leila Mazgari did the same on a feed from junior attacker Chloe Gibson to give the Generals an 11-8 cushion with 4:48 left in regulation.

Briggs rolled the crease a couple of minutes later to produce her game-high fifth goal of the contest before McNulty and Ross finished the spree in the final minute.

”Avery shot really well,” Carhart said. “We talked about where to shoot with the goalie, and Avery was really poised on her shots and was awesome.”

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Hereford had Towson on its heels in the opening period, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Burks and Antonakas.

Vaikness struck first for the Generals on a free position that was answered in kind by junior Eleni Yates to restore the Bulls’ two-goal lead, a gap that lasted longer after Griggs and junior Ohio State commit Lindsey Moneymaker traded goals to make it, 4-2.

Towson finally caught up and then spurted ahead, 7-4, on its first five-goal explosion, producing two goals each by Huebeck and Vaikness and a single tally by Gibson.

Moneymaker whistled in a couple of shots, first while running to her right and then by quick-sticking a nice look inside from junior Kennedy Ziegler to pull to within 7-6 with 18:06 left in the second half.

Briggs gave Towson some breathing room at 8-6 before senior Maddy Izzo answered for the Bulls and the back-and-forth energy continued after Griggs and Burks both found the net again to make it 9-8.

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”We really need to control the ball, slow everything down, get the ball in our sticks and work for the best shot,” Griggs said. “That’s the way we switched the tone of the game. That’s ultimately how we won. We’ve never beaten Hereford, so we had a lot of nerves going into the game. We’ve been working so hard to beat them. We almost beat them last year in county champs., but we came up a little short.”

Vaikness said that “we knew if we could go together on the draw circle, we could win. It was redemption and we’re always big rivals, so it felt good to beat them.”

Hereford coach Kelly Swift said that her defense “killed it, especially in the first half and most of the second half.”

However, she said that while the defense did knock down several Towson passes, the Bulls were unable to secure possession by winning ground balls.

In addition, Swift said that losing draws in the final minutes made a close game appear to be a runaway.

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”The score doesn’t reflect what the actual game was,” she said. “It’s tough. (Moneymaker), Maya Antonakas and Kennedy Ziegler just put every single part of them out on the field. Unfortunately, we came up short on those draw controls and we had a ton of 8-meter shots that we missed. Towson played great. They have a great across-the-board team. Kudos to them.”

No. 15 Towson 14, Hereford 8

Hereford 4 4 — 8

Towson 5 9 — 14

Goals: Hereford-Lindsey Moneymaker 3, Katie Burks 2, Maya Antonakas, Maddy Izzo, Eleni Yates; Towson-Avery Briggs 5, Brigid Vaikness 3, Mary Claire Huebeck 2, Chloe Gibson, Jillian McNulty, Charlotte Ross, Leila Mazhari.

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Assists:Hereford-Kennedy Ziegler, Bailey Berquist; Towson- Chloe Gibson 2, Jillian McNulty, Brigid Vaikness.

Saves: Hereford-Grace Berquist 5; Towson-Meghan Cottrell 4

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