Gast scores 8 as Senators edge CR 12-11 in girls lacrosse

CAMDEN — When Grace Gast first came to Dover High, the thought of winning a game against Caesar Rodney High was a lofty goal.

After all, the Senators had never beaten CR in girls’ lacrosse.

That all changed in 2017. The momentum from that win a year ago has carried over into this season.

Gast, now a senior, scored eight goals, including the game-winner with a minute left, to lift the Senators to a 12-11 victory over Caesar Rodney on Wednesday afternoon. The Senators have now won two in a row against the Riders.

“It’s crazy because my freshman year we would get blown out by them,” Gast said. “Now it’s a must-win game.”

It’s a must-win because the Senators are looking to make more history this year.

This group wants to be the first Dover girls’ lacrosse team to make the state tournament.

Last year, Dover was the last team out of the 10-team field. The tournament has since been expanded to 12 teams and the Senators are now sitting in a solid position to make it with a 10-2 record and three regular season games left.

And this is a young Senator team. It starts a combined nine freshmen and sophomores, who coach Molly Phillips says represents the growth of the game in the Dover area.

“They’re ready to play right away,” Phillips said. “Dover is buying into playing in the offseason and playing in the wintertime. It’s one of those things where you get those kids into feeder programs then when they get to the varsity level they’re ready.”

Wednesday’s game came down to the final minute.

Dover led by two until back-to-back goals by Caesar Rodney’s Lillian Ayers and Eibhlin Steeler tied the game at 11. Soon Dover found itself with the ball and about a minute remaining.

Gast gathered it in the center of the field and was able to make a move to slot her effort on the ground and into the net.

“I tried not to put too much pressure on myself,” Gast said. “I saw an opening and just went for it.”

Gast, who is the Senators’ all-time leading goal-scorer, netted Dover’s final four goals of the contest.

Dover trailed 8-6 at halftime but goals by Ava Niebryzdowksi and Riley McQuaide evened things up at eight. Gast tallied a pair of unanswered goals to give Dover a 10-8 lead before the Riders made their final push.

Dover never trailed after it tied the game 8-8 and out-scored the Riders 6-3 in the second half. Caesar Rodney (6-5) was led by Ayers who scored four goals and Noelle Ruggiero who netted a pair.

“When you’re playing rivals, records are out the window,” Phillips said. “Everyone comes ready to play. Rankings or standings don’t matter. It’s always fun to play them and it was a really tough game. Our defense really stepped up in the second half and saved us from a lot of things.”

McQuaide scored twice for the Senators while Cydney Barnes also provided a goal.

Dover hosts Padua on Monday before a trip to Sussex Academy next Wednesday and a home game Monday, May 14 against Cape Henlopen wraps up the season. The first round of the state tournament is scheduled for Thursday, May 17.

“We’ve got to finish the season out strong and let the chips fall where they do,” Phillips said. “Hopefully we’ll get in this time.”

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