CR boys lacrosse team opens Johnson era with 8-5 loss to Kent Island, Md.

Sean Wooleyhand, left, celebrates with teammate Hunter Christensen, right, after one of his three goals. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

CAMDEN — Midfielder Sean Wooleyhand recorded a hat trick, but it wasn’t quite enough to pull away with the win at home Friday night as the Caesar Rodney High boys’ lacrosse team dropped an 8-5 season-opening loss to Kent Island High, Md.

The out-of-state loss marked the CR head coaching debut for Brooks Johnson, who took over the coaching reins from Matt Faircloth after serving two seasons as assistant coach.

“We love adversity,” Johnson said. “As a program, we welcome adversity. This game is a huge step for us, because we can either learn from it or not.

“If we don’t it’s going to be a long season, but if we do then this team is going to be very special.”

Junior defenseman Myles Lawrence and junior attack James Cava scored the other two goals for the Riders (0-1). Senior midfielder Zach Davis finished with three assists.

“We’re going to learn from this,” said Lawrence. “We always have the confidence, so we’re just going to get back to work tomorrow.”
Wooleyhand scored two of his three goals in the final 64 seconds of the first half.

Junior defenseman Jackson Phillips defends against Kent Island’s Harrison Smith.

“He’s a good leader for us,” Johnson said of the junior. “At the end of the year his sophomore season, he was voted by his teammates to kind of be an offseason leader and he carried that into the spring.”

Senior goalkeeper Jacob Stant finished the game with 15 saves, including a couple of early saves on the Bucs’ first few offensive possessions.

“Defensively, we played hard. We had a good game plan going in, we knew we had a couple of guys we needed to key in on,” said Johnson.

“No. 11 (Stant) played phenomenal,” he continued. “He kept us in the game for as long as he could, hats off to him, but at the end of the day we have to come back tomorrow and right the ship for Monday.”

Caesar Rodney’s offense put up 17 shots, but the Riders’ five goals marked the program’s lowest single-game goal total since scoring just three against Salesianum School on May 16, 2017.

“They put our offense in shambles a little bit, but we’re going to keep fighting through it,” said Johnson. “I have all the confidence in the world.”

Zach Davis registered three assists in CR’s 8-5 loss.

The Bucs put the first goal on the board at the 7:39 mark of the opening quarter as Matt Bastion scored one of his two goals on the night.

Lawrence scored the equalizer three minutes later, sprinting down the length of the field to put the ball in the back of the net for a rare long pole goal to knot the game 1-1.

“I saw the defense pressing out, so I was like ‘this is my chance.’ I’ve been wanting to score for a while now,” Lawrence said of the goal. “I haven’t really scored in a game before, so it’s special.”

“He’s a big guy, so him getting all the way up the field, it’s exciting and it really pumps the team up,” said Johnson. “Especially that early in the game, when you have to get a goal and it comes from one of your poles. That’s special.”

Three unanswered Kent Island goals at the 2:50 and :35 mark of the first quarter and 10:02 of the second quarter put the Bucs in control, 4-1.

Nearly nine minutes passed without either team scoring before Wooleyhand pulled CR to within one goal with a pair of goals in the final 1:04 of the half – including one with just three seconds remaining on the clock.

“It was a big momentum swing, but the beginning of the third quarter is the most important time of the game,” Johnson said. “So, we had to come out firing to tie that thing up.”

Both teams exchanged third quarter goals as the Riders entered the fourth quarter trailing by just one goal, 5-4.

Three unanswered goals in the fourth quarter extended the Kent Island lead to 7-4 before Cava scored his only goal of the night with 25 ticks remaining on the clock, capping the CR scoring.

“They’re a good program. We were sloppy, but the better team won tonight,” said Johnson.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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