Dover seeks elusive win in field hockey tourney

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Dover junior Mira Prisco (8), Caesar Rodney senior Alexiss Hulce (7) and Dover junior Joy Adkins (9) battle for the ball in a game earlier this year. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Dover High’s field hockey players could have walked off the field feeling pretty good about themselves.

After all, the Senators had almost knocked off mighty Delmar in the first round of the DIAA state tournament a year ago.

Only an overtime goal separated the two squads in the Wildcats’ 3-2 first-round victory.

Junior Mira Prisco said she remembers that moment “vividly.”

“It’s a terrible feeling, even if you play your best,” she said. “Nothing beats the feeling of winning. I remember and I do not want to feel like that again.”

A year later, 10th-seeded Dover (10-4-1) will finally get a chance to erase that bitter memory when it faces No. 7 Middletown (12-3) at Cavalier Stadium today at 3:30 p.m.

Also today, No. 15 Milford (9-5-1) takes on second-seeded Wilmington Christian (14-1) at The Montessori School while third-seeded Delmar (12-1-1) hosts No. 14 Conrad (10-4-1). Both those games start at 2:30 p.m.

This is the third straight year that the Senators have made the state tourney. They’ve lost to Delmar in the first round each of the last two seasons.

Clearly, then, Dover’s mission is to win a tournament game this time.

“Everyone’s goal in playing a sport is to win and get as far as you can,” said junior Joy Adkins. “This is our third year going to the tournament. We really want to get past the first round — maybe the third time’s the charm.”

“That’s the goal,” said senior goalie Brooklyn Peete. “I’m a senior so it’s something I’ve been looking forward to. I just want to do it.

“Every time we’ve lost (in the state tourney), we could have won. Someone has to score, so that’s how it is.”

The Senators go into today’s game riding a five-game winning streak. They’ve allowed only two goals in that stretch while posting six shutouts this season.

Dover coach Denise Kimbro said simply the fact that the Senators weren’t matched up against one of the state’s elite programs — like Cape Henlopen, Polytech or Delmar — gives them a psychological boost.

Over the last five seasons, Dover is 9-1 against upstate public schools. That includes a pair of recent wins against two other Blue Hen conference programs, Brandywine and St. Georges.

“I think they’re more mentally prepared just knowing it’s not Delmar or Poly,” said Kimbro. “We just have to go there and play our game. We’re excited to be back in it. We’re working hard and our goal is to get past this first round.”

Of course, the Senators know that beating Middletown won’t be easy. Two of the Cavaliers’ three losses have come against second-seeded Wilmington Christian and sixth-seeded Padua.

Middletown, which is making its first state tournament appearance since 2009, has also won its last five games. Dover has gone up against the Cavs in summer leagues and preseason play days.

“I’m coming to play as hard as I can no matter who we’re facing,” said Adkins. “An opponent is an opponent. … It’s definitely a good feeling to be able to make it to the state tournament.

“And this year we have a higher seed so we know that we’re getting better and better.”

“At the end of the day, we have to score, we have to play well,” said Prisco.

“It was our goal all season-long to get back here,” she added. “This is our opportunity to show people we can go further.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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