Clark scores overtime winner as Dover nips Polytech 1-0 in field hockey

Dover’s Superia Clark, who scored the eventual game-winner in overtime, takes a shot on goal against Polytech in the first half of Thursday night’s field hockey game at Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — It’s not like Polytech High wasn’t applying pressure inside the circle.

The Panthers’ offensive attack drew 16 penalty corners and peppered Dover High’s defensive unit with 19 shots.

But Dover’s back line held strong and Richana Brown fended off each shot that came in the junior goalkeeper’s general direction.

After 60 minutes of scoreless field hockey, Dover sophomore Superia Clark drew a penalty in front of the cage and moments later scored the game-winning goal on a penalty stroke with 9:48 remaining in the overtime period.

The goal, Clark’s 10th of the season, gave Dover the 1-0 victory over its Henlopen North foe on Thursday night.

“It was all about discipline,” Clark said of the penalty stroke. “Coach always tells us, ‘go bottom right, go bottom right.’ You want to do all the fancy tricks — you know, go top left, top right — but I just tried to be disciplined and went bottom right. I just calmed myself and put it in the back of the cage.”

Dover’s Ally Manifold hits the ball as Polytech’s Mairead McKibbin turns away in the first half.

“It was awesome,” said coach Denise Kimbro. “It was a team effort. They worked together as a team, and Superia came through for us.”

It was the third overtime game this season for the Senators, with the other two ending in consecutive tie games to Smyrna High and Caesar Rodney High on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3, respectively.

“I hate nail-biters, but it was a great game,” a smiling Clark said. “It was hard, but we persevered through it.”

At 7-3-2, Dover has three regular season games remaining, with the next home showdown coming against Henlopen North foe Sussex Tech High on Oct. 22.

Brown finished with 16 saves. Sophomore goalkeeper Raegan Thomas made a trio of saves for the Panthers (7-4-1).

The showdown was evenly matched through the first half of play, with each team drawing a trio of penalty corners with neither side being able to capitalize on its opportunities.

The Panthers came out strong in the second half, controlling the tempo and pace for the majority of the half. Eleven of the team’s corners came in those 30 minutes.

The Senators’ success against Poly’s barrage of second-half penalty corner attempts was attributed to a strategic adjustment Kimbro made to the defensive positioning earlier in the week.

Dover’s Alayna Gigliotti battles Polytech’s Cassandra Talamini-Kelemen in the first half at Dover.

The adjustment was originally made for the team’s Oct. 15 matchup with powerhouse Delmar High.

“We changed our defensive corners to Superia being the post and Alayna [Gigliotti] being the trail,” said Kimbro. “We put it in for the Delmar game and we left it in. It worked, it really worked.”

Dover’s offensive attack managed just three shots leading up to Clark’s overtime game-winner.

The lack of offensive opportunities on Dover’s end – especially in the second half – started to frustrate the Senators, but Clark knew they just needed to be patient and pounce on every opportunity they get.

The patience finally paid off less than six minutes into the extra period.

“It got very frustrating, but as a team we had to stay disciplined, keep working through and not give up, which is hard mentally not just physically,” said Clark.

“We have a great goalie, we have a spectacular defense. I love them. They’re calm, they always know what to say, what to do, so it’s always good to have them back there to keep us all together.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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