Dover girls still chasing tourney dream

 

Dover High girls’ lacrosse midfielder Grace Gast (left) became the program’s all-time leading scorer when she netted her 151st
career goal in a 21-11 victory over Appoquinimink on Saturday.
(Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — When the regular season ended last spring, Dover High’s players knew their chances weren’t good.

Still, missing out on making the DIAA girls’ lacrosse state tournament by maybe a point was crushing.

The Senators won their final nine games to finish with a program-best 11-4 mark.

“Last year, we were so close,” said senior midfielder Grace Gast. “It was really disappointing.”

This time, Dover is determined not to let the program’s first state tourney appearance slip through its hands again.

The Senators are 5-1 with a 7 p.m. home game against Polytech looming on Wednesday.

Already this season, Dover has beaten St. Andrews for the first time (11-10 on March 31) while Gast became the program’s all-time leading scorer when she netted her 151st career goal in a 21-11 victory over Appoquinimink on Saturday.

With eight seniors on the roster, many of this year’s Senators have been playing together since they were freshmen. They’re determined to leave their mark before they graduate.

“I think this year we’re a much more bonded and motivated team,” said senior midfielder Cydney Barnes. “It (the win over St. Andrews) gave us confidence definitely, as a team knowing that we can beat tougher teams. When we work together, we can accomplish a lot.” “I would kind of be like making history here,” senior defender Ashley Manifold said about making the state tournament. “It’d be cool for our senior year.

“We have chemistry. We all get along and we’ve played together for years. We just have a lot of talent this year.”

Gast’s teammates were excited to see her break the school record. She was a first-team All-Henlopen Conference pick a year ago.

“I actually didn’t know,” Barnes said about Gast being close to the record. “She doesn’t really talk about stuff like that. But she’s one of my good friends so it was really cool to see her achieve something like that.”

“She’s knows how to move her defender and the goalie,” said Manifold, who made second-team all-conference last season.

Gast leads the Senators with 27 goals and 15 assists. But Dover has other scoring threats in Riley McQuaide (18 goals, 4 assists), Maddie Small (15 goals, 2 assists), Barnes (8 goals, 3 assists), Ava Niebrzydowski (7 goals, 4 assists) and Angela Poole (6 goals, 1 assist).

Dover coach Molly Phillips said all the defensive attention that Gast draws opens things up for teammates.

“She’s a smart player,” said Phillips. “She knows the game really well. She has a really high lacrosse IQ. She just makes her teammates better.

“We have a lot of kids who can score. So when somebody’s face-guarded, we know there’s other girls who are going to have that opportunity.”

The previous Dover record of 150 career goals was set by Tricia Grant in 2008.

The Senators haven’t had a losing record since 2012. Part of the reason they haven’t made the state tourney is because of their strength of schedule.

But this year the tournament was expanded from 10 to 12 teams. Dover thinks it’s time it finally broke through.

“It was a bitter pill to swallow knowing we were 11-4 last year and that wasn’t good enough to get in the tournament,” said Phillips. “That was their goal this year. We played in the wintertime, we played in the summer. That’s been their goal every day — that we want to get into the tournament.”

“This year we really click,” said Gast. “I feel like in previous years we were pretty individual. But every position has stepped up. We’re getting more assists.

“I think it definitely means something to have a stronger team. The energy is definitely higher for us. We’re all really excited for our games.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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