Cape Henlopen tops Dover for 13th straight North title

Dover’s Julia Llias trying to stop progress of Cape’s Lily Ashby in match played in Dover Monday night. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

DOVER — The game was played three weeks ago.

But the fact that Dover High allowed just one goal against high-scoring Delmar got Cape Henlopen’s attention.

“Oh, it definitely did,” said the Vikings’ Reagan Ciabattoni. “We all were going into this like, ‘Oh no, 1-0.’”

But Cape was more than up to the challenge, pulling away to a 5-0 victory over the Senators to clinch their 13th straight Henlopen Conference Northern Division title in field hockey on Monday evening.

The North crown was also the Vikings’ 30th overall since the current version of the Henlopen Conference was created in 1969.

And just for good measure, Cape (5-0 North, 10-1 overall) has now won 30 straight matchups with North opponents since a 2-1 loss at Dover on Sept. 12, 2017.

“We have a target on our backs — we can’t take any days off,” said Vikings’ coach Kate Austin. “This year everybody came out gunning for us. So we had to be ready to go every day.”

Superia Clark of Dover and Cape’s Reagan Ciabattoni battle for possession in the first quarter. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“I think there’s definitely pressure under our belts,” said Ciabattoni. “We came in just ready to play some hockey.”

Ciabattoni took care of all the scoring Cape needed when she tallied the Vikings’ first three goals.

The junior scored twice in the final 7:16 of the second quarter — including one on a penalty stroke — to break open a scoreless game. Cape tacked on three more second-half goals as Mackinzie Brown and Noelle Sabbagh also found the back of the cage,

The Vikings out-shot Dover 22-5 and held an 8-3 edge in corners.

“I think that we just have people that can play everywhere,” said Austin. “I mean, I took forwards and played them at the mid. At the end I had a forward playing back. We have girls that understand everywhere on the field that they need to be.

“Also our bench is very deep right now. I’m confident going 10 deep on the bench and there’s not going to be a drop off in play.”

Dover goalie Richana Brown saves a shot with her foot with teammates Superia Clark (left) and Lily Turner ready to help. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emigh)

This year, Cape out-scored its six North opponents by a 36-1 margin. (The Vikings’ North game with Sussex Tech was canceled).

Senior goalie Julie Heffernan made five saves to pick up Cape’s seventh shutout of the season.

Goalie Richana Brown made 17 saves for Dover (5-2 North, 9-3 overall), including one on a penalty stroke to keep the contest scoreless.

The North title earns Cape a rematch with South champion Delmar in the Henlopen championship game. The game will be played on Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m. at DE Turf.

The Wildcats downed the Vikings, 2-0, on Nov. 2, for their fifth straight win in the rivalry. Cape always welcomes another chance to face Delmar.

“I think we match up evenly with them,” said Austin. “Against some other teams, it’s a little tricky because if a team is just ‘hit and run,’ then that takes us out of our element. But I think they play the same style that we do.

“You only get better when you play the best team so we’ll take them any day of the week.”

“We’re definitely ready,” said Ciabattoni. “I think it’s fun to play them. They’re great competition.”