CR boys lacrosse, girls soccer teams facing big challenge in state finals

DOVER — For both of these Caesar Rodney High teams, the storylines never seem to change.

Again, the Riders’ girls’ soccer team will try to claim the program’s first DIAA state crown.

And, for the sixth time in their seven championship-game appearances, it’s mighty Padua standing in CR’s path.

It’s a little bit different for the Riders’ boys lacrosse squad. CR has won three state titles in that sport.

But the Riders have also lost in their last three trips to the finals. And, just like the last two, powerhouse Salesianum is waiting for them.

Like the teams that came before them, though, both CR squads will go into their state championship games believing they have a chance.
The second-seeded Riders’ girls (15-1-1) face No. 1 Padua (16-1) today in the Division I finals at 8 p.m. at Caravel Academy.

“Caesar Rodney girls’ soccer hasn’t won the state title yet but this could be our year,” said junior forward Jessie Prillaman. “We’re all hoping for it. I know we can do it. We’ve just got to keep our heads up and fight hard.”

The Pandas have won eight state titles since capturing its first in 2006. Last year Middletown snapped Padua’s run of five straight Division I crowns with a 1-0 victory in the finals.

CR hasn’t beaten the Pandas since 2010, going 0-10 against them since.

If there’s reason for the Riders to be optimistic, it’s the fact that they only lost to Padua, 2-1, on April 10. CR tied the contest, 1-1, early on, although the Pandas did outshoot the Riders, 27-6.

“Padua’s a really good team,” said sophomore goalie Morgan Desaulniers, who made 16 saves in the first meeting. “But any team’s beatable at any given time. We just need to keep coming out strong and doing what needs to be done.”

“It may seem strange, but we try not to talk too much about wins and losses throughout the whole season,” said coach Darrell Gravatt. “We talk about excellence — creating an atmosphere of excellence. There’s a standard that we want to play to. The wins will take care of themselves.

“For the most part, in our history, we’ve been blessed. We don’t win them all, but, if you try to play the right way, you win a lot of them.”

CR’s boys will wait until Monday to get their shot at Sallies in the lacrosse finals. The contest is set for 7 p.m. at Caravel.

The top-seeded Sals, coached by Dover teachers Bob Healy and Shawn Plews, have won three straight state crowns and eight since 2007. Sallies hasn’t lost to a Delaware school since 2014 when it was knocked off by Cape Henlopen, 9-7, in the state finals.

“We’ve just got to play,” said CR coach Matt Faircloth. “Sallies is not the team that you’re able to have mistakes and bounce back from. They’re talented and coached very well to be able to take advantage of those mistakes. You’ve got to play mistake-free to put ourselves in a position to be successful.”

The Riders have lost at least 14 games in a row to the Sals, a streak that dates to 2009. In its back-to-back title-game appearances against Sallies, in 2012-13, CR lost by a decisive total of 31-6.

Still, the Riders have been more competitive with the Sals lately. They lost to them only 16-11 in last year’s state semifinals and 19-8 a couple weeks ago. CR trailed just 7-5 at halftime of that contest.

Win or lose, Faircloth likes the team that his players have become in reaching the state finals for the first time since ‘13.
“They understand their roles and accept their roles and handle them very well,” he said. “They work very hard as a unit and hold each other accountable. They’re very coachable kids who enjoy coming to work every day.”

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