Dover hopes comeback game a sign of more wins

 

DOVER — With only three minutes left and his Dover High boys’ lacrosse team trailing Delmar by two, Michael Denman felt like it was now or never.

Another close loss wasn’t going to cut it for the Senators.

“We really did some soul-searching,” said Denman, Dover’s head coach. “I kind of brought them into the huddle and said, ‘We’ve had too many tastes of losses this season. It changes now. This is our game.’”

A little while later, the Senators were celebrating an improbable 11-10 overtime victory over the Wildcats on Monday night.

Dover hopes the comeback win can be a turning point in its season.

After starting the year 1-4, the Senators (5-5) reached the .500 mark for the first time after winning for the fourth time in their last five games.

Will Niebrzydowski has tallied a team-high 41 goals with 18 assists.

Will Niebrzydowski has tallied a team-high 41 goals with 18 assists.

With five regular-season contests remaining, Dover has its sights set on trying to make the DIAA state tournament.

In Monday’s comeback win, sophomore Will Niebrzydowski netted the tying goal with about 45 seconds left in regulation before scoring the game-winner in OT.

“It was very exciting,” said Niebrzydowski. “That was our playoffs. We needed to just go all out.

“In the beginning of the year, we weren’t able to come together as a team as much as we are now. We’re showing a lot more passion and hustle in every position. Everyone just wants to win and get to the playoffs.”

The Senators are a young team. They start five sophomores and a freshman while goalie Kyle Potter, who is averaging about 10 saves per game, is a junior.

Niebrzydowski has tallied a team-high 41 goals with 18 assists.

Another sophomore, Cole Palmer, is one of Dover’s top defenders. But he said the Senators aren’t interested in using inexperience as an excuse.

“We try to play like we’re anybody else on the field,” said Palmer. “We don’t really worry about age. We just go out there and play.”

“In the beginning we kind of did (talk about being young),” said Niebrzydowski. “But then we were like, ‘We’re playing at the varsity level, we can’t do that anymore. We just need to play — and play to the best of our ability.’”

“They’re definitely improving,” senior Connor Ashoka Garrett said about the underclassmen. “A lot of them are starting to step up and mature a little bit more. In two years, when they’re seniors, they’re going to be really good.”

Garrett is second on the team with 27 goals and 15 assists. He also scooped up 13 groundballs in the win over Delmar.

A number of Dover’s games this spring could have gone either way. Six of the Senators’ 10 contests have been decided by two goals or less. They’re an even 3-3 in those games.

Dover hosts Sussex Central today at 7 p.m. in a Henlopen Northern Division matchup.

But the Senators know they’re probably going to win some more close games if they want to make the program’s third state tourney appearance in the last four seasons. A year ago, a 10-5 record put Dover in the tournament.

“It would mean a lot considering how much we struggled at the beginning,” said Palmer.

“It’s playing four good quarters,” said Denman. “If we can put four quarters of good lacrosse together, those one-goal games could be different.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.