CR avenges earlier loss, beats Appo 13-9 in boys lacrosse tourney

MIDDLETOWN — Considering Appoquinimink High crushed them by 12 goals just three weeks ago, you couldn’t blame Caesar Rodney’s boys’ lacrosse players if the Jaguars were the last squad they wanted to see.

But the Riders were convinced they were much better than they showed that night.

And when CR got its chance at revenge on Saturday night, the Riders went out and grabbed it.

In a back-and-forth contest, sixth-seeded CR netted the final four goals of the game to knock off No. 3 Appo, 13-9, in the quarterfinals of the DIAA state tournament on Saturday night.

The hard-earned win gives the Henlopen Conference champion Riders (13-4) an even bigger shot at redemption when they face defending state champion Salesianum (13-3) in Wednesday night’s semifinals. The second-seeded Sals thumped CR, 17-3, on May 16.

Saturday’s win over the Jaguars (15-2) was pretty sweet for the Riders after falling to Appo, 16-4, on May 5.

“It was way different than last time,” said junior attack Demetrius Stevenson. “We had a huge wakeup call in the practice after (the first meeting). We had a team meeting and we discussed things that were going on.

“Ever since then, we’ve kind of developed into a different team. We’ve bounced back and it showed here tonight. … It’s a great feeling.”

“Last time we came out here, we got off the bus and I didn’t really hear any emotion, didn’t feel any emotion,” said senior goalie Tyler Gross. “I was part of that, too. We were flat. Nobody was really ready to play.

“I think this time when we came up here, we were all yelling and screaming the second we got off the bus. We knew we had to play different. It wasn’t a question of talent, it was a question of who wanted it more. Last game they wanted it more. I think his game we proved that we wanted it more.”

After falling behind 2-0 early, the Riders answered with four straight goals and never trailed again.

Appo did look like it had taken a 10-9 lead when it scored with 10:45 remaining. But the goal was waived off because the Jaguars had too many men on the field.

Then, with 7:19 left, junior Joshua Cosden fired home a shot from straight on and the Riders had the lead for good.

CR followed with goals from Jared Wagenhoffer (6:29), Jacob Pangle (4:41) and Riley Tracy (4:34) as its advantage balooned to 13-9.

The Riders had led by as much as 9-6 in the third quarter. They didn’t panic, however, when the Jaguars made their comeback to tie the score at 9-9 with 1:07 still remaining in the third quarter.

“We had to be able to absorb that run,” said CR coach Matt Faircloth. “But I was really, really happy with how we responded and the fight that they had for all 48 minutes.”

Cosden finished with a team-high four goals while Stevenson had three, Wagenhoffer and Pangle tallied two apiece and Jacob Copio scored one.

Gross made 11 saves as the Riders outshot the Jaguars, 30-25.

CR, of course, won’t be given much of a chance against Sallies on Wednesday. The Sals have reached the state finals 10 years in a row.

Then again, not many people would have given the Riders much chance of winning on Saturday, either.

“The last meeting, obviously that’s not what we wanted,” Stevenson said about Sallies. “They’re a great program, well coached. All we can do is fight and battle and the outcome will be itself.”

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