For the second straight season, the ninth-ranked Gladiators started slow and fell to Hereford, which claimed its sixth consecutive state title and record ninth overall.
“I just think we came out unprepared,” Pagnotta said. “We weren’t focused. I think we were still in shock of just being here.”
Making its sixth state final appearance in seven years, Glenelg (16-3) put a heavy emphasis on starting fast. The players had watched video of the opening half of the 2012 final when they fell behind by seven goals in a 13-8 loss.
The Gladiators repeated their mistakes anyway, allowing the game’s first five goals. Senior Jack Adams got Hereford (19-2) rolling with two early scores and an assist on a behind-the-back pass to junior Jason Ashwood. The Towson recruit finished with a game-high five goals.
Junior Tommy Chaisson scored 2 minutes 6 seconds into the second quarter off a feed from junior Nick Forrest (one goal, one assist) to get the Gladiators on the board.
“I don’t know if it’s Hereford. I don’t know if it’s [being] wide-eyed,” Glenelg Coach Josh Hatmaker said. “For the second year in a row, we played terrible in the first half.”
Pagnotta, a Towson-bound midfielder, gave Glenelg a chance to dictate the game’s pace by winning 13 of 19 faceoffs, but the offense never got on track.
Often, those possessions ended before the Howard County champions could muster a shot. Hereford’s defensive pressure caused a flurry of early turnovers, and Glenelg finished with its fewest goals in any game since 2007.
Glenelg had earned a spot in the game after scoring four unanswered goals in the final three minutes of a 10-9 semifinal win over Kent Island last Friday.
The Gladiators dug a hole too deep to escape this time against a Hereford squad stocked with Division I talent. They will have to wait for their fourth state title in school history but kept alive a 60-game Howard County winning streak with another deep playoff run.
“It’s disappointing,” Hatmaker said. “But if you think about it, there’s only three happy teams at the end of the year. It’s one of those things where we get an opportunity to come do it again.”