Cape Henlopen girls make lacrosse finals for 11th straight season

DOVER — It’s not very often that any team stays close to Cape Henlopen High in girls’ lacrosse.

So with the Vikings up by ‘only’ three goals on Ursuline at halftime on Tuesday night, coach Lindsey Underwood wanted to make sure her players stayed relaxed.

“I think if we’re calm, they’re calm,” said Underwood. “Before they came off the field, we were like ‘stay relaxed.’”

The top-seeded Vikings did just that, not panicking before finally pulling away to an 18-11 victory over the No. 4 Raiders in the DIAA state semifinals at Dover on Tuesday evening.

The 26th straight win for Cape (17-0) put the Vikings in the state championship game for a remarkable 11th season in a row. Cape will be going for its 11th straight state crown when it returns to Dover to face second-seeded Archmere on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Leading Ursuline (13-4) by only a 9-6 margin at intermission, Underwood’s biggest concern was the Raiders’ 9-6 first-half advantage in draw controls. So she moved sophomore Lindsay Rambo into the circle.

Cape ended up with a 10-6 edge on draw controls after halftime.

“It was really, if you got the draw, you got the goal,” said Vikings’ junior Meredith Lockwood. “Lindsay Rambo did a great job on getting those.

“She (Ursuline draw specialist Jordan Baerga) is really good. She can put it right where she wants to. We did a good job of adjusting to that.”

The Vikings have allowed more than seven goals to only one Delaware team all season. Ursuline, which fell to Cape 16-9 in the last game of the regular season, accomplished the feat twice.

The Raiders trailed just 9-7 after netting the first goal of the second half. But the Vikings reeled off three unanswered goals and never led by fewer than four the rest of the way.

Lockwood tallied a game-high six goals for Cape.

“They’re definitely a good team and we knew it was going to be a challenge,” Lockwood said about Ursuline. “I think we just kind of got in our groove. We got the draws and we just felt it.”

“In the first half we were a little shaky,” said junior Sawyer Walker, a Caesar Rodney transfer, who scored three first-half goals. “It’s the semifinals, everybody’s on edge. We just had to come out hard — every groundball was ours, every draw and then we just go hard and come and get them.”

Senior Chloe Schaeffer (1 assist) and Emily Monigle also scored three goals apiece for the vikings. Schaeffer, who missed last season with an injury, scored the 100th goal of her career.

Alia Marshall added two goals with Lola Messick collecting a goal and four assists.

Cape also got some big saves from freshman goalie Laci Dixon, who finished with 10 stops in the contest. The Vikings out-shot Ursuline, 23-21.

Cape will take a 32-game state tourney winning streak into Thursday’s state finals. It beat Archmere (15-2) by a score of 13-7 on April 13.

That was Cape’s smallest margin of victory against a Delaware school this season.

And as many times as they’ve been on this big stage before, the Vikings say every time is a little different.

“It’s new because it’s a new team every year,” said Underwood. “Over the last two seasons we graduated like 23 or so kids. We have four freshmen that are getting significant time which doesn’t normally happen. It really is brand new.”

“It’s always just awesome,” Lockwood said about being back in the title game. “It’s a great feeling. We’ve been in it for a while, but every single time, it’s the best feeling. It doesn’t get old.

“There’s always the pressure to win, especially after winning 10 in a row. Yeah, the pressure’s always there but that’s what really drives us.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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