Cape tops Padua 5-0 for Division I title and 9th field hockey crown

Cape girls celebrate their victory over Padua Friday night. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

NEWARK — Cape Henlopen High’s field hockey team had just blanked Padua two weeks ago.

But that didn’t mean the Vikings were going to take the Pandas lightly in the rematch — not with a state title on the line.

Top-seeded Cape picked right up where it left off, downing No. 2 Padua, 5-0, to capture the DIAA Division I state championship at Rullo Stadium on Friday night.

For the Vikings (17-1), whose only loss was to Division II champion Delmar, it was the program’s ninth field hockey state crown overall.

Emily Monigle of the Vikings hits the ball upfield past Padua defender Aliya Curran.

“We knew the regular-season score didn’t really matter,” said senior midfielder Jackie Cannon, who had a goal in the game. “Anything can happen. We had to come in with the mentality that they could win. They’re a fast team, they’re a good team. We had to do everything we could to put the ball in the cage.

“I think we played amazing tonight. That’s my last high school game. It’s really bittersweet. These girls are my family. It’s a sad feeling but it’s good to go out as state champions.”

The state crown was the seventh in the last eight seasons for the Vikings. They finished with 17 shutouts in 18 games — the most in the proud program’s history — and allowed just three three goals to Delmar all season.

Cape beat Padua, 6-0, on Oct. 27.

Emily Monigle of Cape Henlopen reaches in to knock ball away from Padua’s Angela Taglione.

“We did not want to take them lightly,“ said senior Alia Marshall, who scored twice. “They’re really fast and they’re really skilled.

“We don’t settle — like we would not settle for a 1-0 game. We knew were able to capitalize on the offense end. Being 5-0, that’s what we wanted to do.”

Cape needed less than four minutes to take the lead for good on Friday. Freshman Noelle Sabbagh tallied the goal at the 26:20 mark off an assist from Cameron Smith.

The Vikings then gave themselves a more-comfortable 2-0 halftime advantage when Anna Stancofski put in a high shot with just 3:21 left before intermission.

In the second half, Cape struck quickly again.

Cape Henlopen head coach Kate Austin (left) celebrates on the sidelines after her team scored their fifth goal with only seconds left in the championship match.

This time Marshall scored at the 28:59 mark to stretch the Vikings’ lead to 3-0. It then took Cape less than three minutes to add to that lead when Cannon’s goal put the Vikings’ lead with 26:19 remaining in the game.

Marshall’s goal with just :23.5 seconds remaining capped off the evening for Cape.

Kate (Windett) Austin, the Caesar Rodney High grad who has won six state titles as the Vikings’ coach, thought getting off to a fast start in both halves was important.

“It’s really just a momentum-shifter, especially in a game this big,” said Austin. “You want to step out early because it’s hard for a team to fight back once they go down.”

Cape dominated the game statistically, out-shooting Padua 20-0 and finishing with a 16-2 edge in corners. Goalie Shannon McCormac made 16 saves for the Pandas (16-2), who were playing in the state finals for the first time in program history.

It was a special season for the Vikings, who have eight seniors on the roster. They out-scored their opponents by an 82-3 margin. The three goals allowed were also a record-low for the program.

“They just play for each other all the time,” said Austin, who sued all 22 players in Friday’s game. “They connect with each other off the field, they connect with each other on the field probably better than any team I’ve ever had. We don’t have a dropoff from one to 22.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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