Lake downs Sussex Academy 3-1 to advance in field hockey tourney

FELTON — Just a week ago, Addyson Stewart found herself in almost the exact same situation.

She was facing the same team and even the same player.

But this time, the Lake Forest High goalie threw up her right arm and knocked the ball harmlessly away.

Stewart’s big late-game save not only gave her redemption but helped the Spartans avenge a tough recent loss as No. 8 Lake Forest downed ninth-seeded Sussex Academy, 3-1, in the first round of the DIAA Division II field hockey state tournament on a chilly Tuesday afternoon.

The victory avenges a 3-0 loss to the Seahawks last Monday and sends the Spartans (7-6) to a quarterfinal matchup at top-seeded Delmar on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Lake Forest’s Haydan Parker takes a shot on goal against Sussex Academy during the Field Hockey Championship at Lake Forest on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

In the loss to the Seahawks (6-6-1) Stewart gave up an early goal to Sussex Academy’s Erin Carey on a penalty stroke.

When she faced Carey on a penalty stroke on Tuesday, there was still 12:41 remaining and the Spartans were trying to hang onto a 2-0 lead.

“I just knew in my head that I owed it to my team to bring it back,” said Stewart, a junior, who was awarded the game ball after the contest. “The adrenaline was pumping. I knew it was something that I had to do.

“I just thought in my head, ‘Oh, she’s going to go right.’ I scooted over just a little.”

“I’m just over the moon for Addyson and having that opportunity to kind of redeem herself,” said Lake Forest coach Michele Tucker.

Lake Forest’s Maya Jester, right, reaches for the ball against Sussex Academy’s Addy Leonhartt in second quarter action during the Field Hockey Championship at Lake Forest on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Stewart’s save looked even bigger when Sussex Academy’s Rachel Carey scored with only 1:51 remaining to pull the Seahawks within 2-1.

But Lake Forest sealed the victory with a minute remaining when Sierra Jester carried the ball down the right side and delivered a pass across to Maya Jester for the insurance goal.

The Spartans were excited to get another chance at Sussex Academy after holding an advantage in shots and corners in the first meeting.

“When we first played them, we were not together,” said junior Hayden Parker. “We were not ready.

“But this game, we knew how they played. We kind of strategized on Saturday and Sunday and we just did what we had to do.”

Lake Forest also changed its offensive formation since the last game.

Sierra Jester gave the Spartans the lead for good less than six minutes into the contest when she knocked in a goal from close range. Parker Robbins got the ball to her.

Parker then scored on a penalty stroke with 7:39 left in the second quarter to give Lake Forest a 2-0 halftime advantage.

“I haven’t taken one in a playoff game,” Parker said about her penalty stroke. “It was definitely nerve-wracking. I was excited, though.

“I kind of go in there with a clear mind. If it goes in, it goes in.”

Lake Forest finished with an 8-5 advantage in shots with both teams having five corners.

Stewart made five saves while Lilly McAroy had four for the Seahawks, who were making the program’s first appearance in the state tournament. Sussex Academy is coached by former Sussex Tech standout Maxine Fluharty.

Lake Forest, which is in the state tourney for the first straight season, will be a big underdog against Delmar. The four-time defending state champion Wildcats have won 74 games in a row.

But the Spartans have the distinction of being the only team to score against Delmar this season in a 10-1 loss on Nov. 13. A state semifinalist last fall, Lake Forest knows it won’t have anything to lose on Saturday.

“They are who they are,” Tucker said about Delmar. “We’re happy to still be playing. Our goal the first time playing Delmar was to score — and we met that goal.

“It’s going to be what it’s going to be.”