There are some traditions Glenelg Coach Josh Hatmaker doesn’t let go of, and that included wearing the same outfit during each and every playoff game this spring. There was no reason to change for Friday’s Maryland 3A/2A state semifinal against powerhouse Hereford, where Hatmaker wore the same sunglasses, shoes, khaki pants and purple T-shirt, which was emblazoned with the words “Cheese On!”
The phrase is an homage to the nickname and memory of former Glenelg student Matthew Cheswick, who was killed two years ago this month by a drunk driver in Ocean City.
“The kid means so much to this community,” Hatmaker said. “Once we start something in the playoffs, we don’t change it.”
It was Matthew’s younger brother, Luke Cheswick, who had the ball in the closing moments of Friday’s match with his team down by one goal.
The entire team watched Cheswick desperately fight for position to try and get a shot off, but after he fired a shot at the goal, the ball was deflected by a wall of defenders and picked up by Hereford. That lifted the Bulls to an 8-7 victory at Annapolis High.
Hereford advanced to the state final against Kent Island, which defeated Urbana, 14-6, in the other semifinal Friday.
The Gladiators had trailed all evening, first 5-0 early, then 8-4 late in the second half, and Cheswick’s two goals had helped inch the team closer each time. “I don’t remember the last time we started out with the first goal,” Cheswick said. “So it’s been like that all year, and we knew once we were down 8-4, it wasn’t over yet and we still had something left. We knew we could do it, we just came up a little short.”
Hereford had blown out Glenelg (13-5) by a combined 26-11 in the previous two state finals. Yet the Gladiators weren’t intimidated Friday night. Part of that confidence emanated from the struggles the team faced this season. They had injuries. They had youth. They didn’t have a true home game all year long, Hatmaker said, after the field at the high school was vandalized over the winter.
That kept the team closely bonded together in a variety of situations, whether it was rallying to support the Cheswick family or to climb out of a deep hole Friday against Hereford and its Johns Hopkins-bound goalie, Brock Turnbaugh.
“I though the kids fought,” Hatmaker said. “To be down to that team, we took four minutes of penalties, that’s pretty taxing.”
Glenelg seniors Tommy Chaisson, Nick Forrest and Tyler Wasson all scored goals, and midfielder Carson Marshall added another key score early in the fourth quarter. Cheswick’s second goal of the night cut the Hereford lead to 8-6 with just less than six minutes to play, and junior attacker Kevin Coppinger added to the drama with a goal with 1 minute 39 secondsleft to pull the Gladiators within one.
Glenelg regained possession after a defensive stand, and there was little doubt where the ball was going. Cheswick circled through the zone as his teammates set picks, but his shot never reached Turnbaugh.
The boys hugged each other in an emotional postgame scene, the last during a season that was about much more than returning to the state final. Hatmaker called Cheswick the “spokesman” of the group.
“We honor his brother,” Hatmaker said. “The way Luke lives his life, that’s Cheese On.”