BALTIMORE — Kent Island High’s boys’ lacrosse team experienced the exhilaration of a last-minute victory Wednesday, when it edged Parkside in a Class 2A state semifinal.

Three days later, the Bucs learned how deflating it can be when standing on the other side.

Despite having a defender on his hip, Owen Cogan scored the winning goal with exactly 1 minute remaining Saturday afternoon to lift Hereford to a 5-4 victory over the Buccaneers in the Class 2A state championship at Loyola University’s Ridley Athletic Complex.

“These kids are relentless,” said Buccaneers head coach Bobby Woolley, whose team never led in the game, but finally pulled even at 4-4 when Mike Ruffennach completed a downfield rush with a goal before crashing into Bulls goalie Logan Bush with 4:50 remaining. “They’re winners in their hearts. It shows with everything they do on the field. When it’s not a finesse play and it calls for a gritty play these guys answer. They never shy down from contact. And they certainly never shy down from a challenge.”

And they didn’t shy away or fold when falling behind early.

After a scoreless first quarter, Chase Gibbons buried a shot to the left of Bucs goalie Kasey Heath to give Hereford a 1-0 lead 9:48 remaining before halftime. Bush foiled Ruffennach’s bid for the equalizer with 1:20 left in the first half, then watched as Logan Sinseback snuck an underhanded shot past Heath for a 2-0 with 15.7 seconds left in the half.

Hereford widened its lead to 3-0 just 24 seconds into the third quarter when Jason Bowen converted a feed from Trey Gibbons.

The Buccaneers (10-1) responded just 46 seconds later though, when Jamie Smith unloaded a sidewinder past Bush to make it a two-goal difference. Kent Island killed off a Bulls’ extra-man opportunity two minutes later, then shaved the deficit to 3-2 when Jack Mulligan snapped an underhand shot into the back of the net with 2:04 to go in the third.

Trey Gibbons nudged Hereford back to a two-goal advantage at 4-2 with 4:39 elapsed in the fourth period.

Kent Island continued hanging around and again responded quickly as Mulligan scored his second with 6:34 left to again narrow the deficit to one. The Bulls continued clinging to their one-goal lead while killing off a Kent Island EMO less than a minute later.

Ruffennach then gained possession, hurried toward goal, banged off one defender before shooting, scoring and slamming into Bush (four saves) with under 5 minutes to play for the game’s first and only tie.

“As far as grit, I’d say all these kids have a healthy dose of that” Woolley said of his team.

Hereford won the ensuing faceoff and worked the ball around for 3:34. Then Cogan took possession, and with a defender on his back pressed toward goal and fired from a tough angle to beat Heathy for the game-winner.

“Kasey is a dynamic kid,” Woolley said of his goalie who finished with eight saves. “Between the pipes he stands tall. He makes every shooter second guess what they’re doing out there, and that’s huge. He’s a huge presence on the field, he’s a vocal guy. His ability to make some of the toughest saves in the toughest moments proved what Kasey’s all about today. He kept us in the game on several occasions. His abilities were really on full display today.”

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