Big win over Dover gives Polytech confidence

Jake Davis Special to The Delaware State News / Doug Curran

WOODSIDE — Things weren’t going very well for the Panthers on Friday night.

Polytech High’s boys’ lacrosse team had watched a four-goal lead against rival Dover slip away in the fourth quarter.

The Senators had come all the way back, tying the contest in the final minute.

But the Panthers didn’t panic.

Instead, they fought back, got a goal from Patrick O’Brien in the closing seconds and walked away with a hard-won, 16-15 victory.

“It was just kind a sense of calm,” Polytech coach Bob Gilmore said about his players’ reaction. “It was really kind of wild. It was neat to see.”

The win left the Panthers with a 5-2 record. That’s as many games as they won all last season and two more than they won the season before in a three-win campaign.

Polytech’s players would like to think the victory over Dover shows how far they’ve come. The Panthers hadn’t beaten the Senators since 2014.

“It was a huge deal,” said senior midfielder Zach Maheu. “It’s always fun to win against our rivals. We were so excited. It’s probably my favorite win of the season so far.”

“It was definitely a big deal,” agreed senior midfielder Jake Davis. “The last two years we’d lost to them so, to pull out a win this year was awesome, absolutely.”

Zach Maheu

Of course, Polytech wants to have more than just one satisfying win on its resume.

The Panthers (1-1 Henlopen North) take a three-game winning streak into today’s 5:30 p.m. Henlopen North contest at Sussex Central.

Polytech last made the DIAA state tournament in 2014. At that point, the Panthers had qualified for the tourney five years in a row.

Missing out on the tournament for two straight seasons was disappointing for the last couple senior classes.

“They had been around the state tournament when they were young guys and kind of they expected it,” said Gilmore. “Part of us being young is we expected things to be a little easier the last two years. We didn’t understand that we had to work a lot harder than we had been.

“We kind of got back to our roots this year.”

Polytech is still fairly young. The Panthers have only six seniors on their 20-man roster.

Junior Zach Trabaudo leads the squad with 22 goals and seven assists with Maheu adding 14 goals. O’Brien, a junior, and senior Josh Davis have 11 goals apiece.

So far, Polytech’s two losses have come against two of the better programs in the state — Archmere and Caesar Rodney.

After tonight’s game at Central, the Panthers don’t play again until April 26 when they host another of the state’s best in Cape Henlopen. That’s followed by another tough matchup, an April 29th game at Wilmington Friends.

But, win or lose, Gilmore likes the way his players have handled themselves in tough situations so far. He hopes that continues.

“I think what’s really nice about this group is they really haven’t been fazed by too much,” said Gilmore. “They’re just steady. They don’t get real up and they don’t get real down. … When they play hard, they play well and they make good decisions, they’re around.”

Of course, winning tends to lead to more wins.

Now that they’ve figured some things out, the Panthers don’t want to forget how they got here.

“Things are a lot different this year,” said Maheu. “We can compete with any team now. After the past two seasons, we’ve got to go into every game wanting to win. Nothing’s going to be given to us.”

“The team bonding is always good but it’s always fun to win,” said Davis. “We’re definitely working hard this year. At practice, we’re going 100 percent. We’re caring a lot more — which is definitely nice to see as a senior after going through the ups and downs. We’re definitely on an ‘up’ season this year.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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