Padua ousts CR in Division I girls soccer semifinals 6-0

Caesar Rodney’s Jessie Prillaman battles Padua’s Grace Mercer in the first half at Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — The seeding said that No. 2 Caesar Rodney High had the edge on No. 3 Padua on Wednesday night.

But the play on the field showed why the Pandas were still clearly the favorite.

Padua netted three first-half goals and never looked back, rolling to a 6-0 victory over the Riders in the DIAA Division I girls’ soccer state semifinals at Dover High.

The Pandas (13-3) get a rematch with top-seeded Wilmington Charter in the state finals on either Friday or Saturday. The Force handed Padua one of its two in-state losses this season.

The Pandas have won 14 straight meetings with the Riders since CR downed Padua, 4-3, in the 2010 state semifinals. Six of those victories have come in the state tourney.

The Riders’ Haley Schafer kicks past Padua in the first half.

The Henlopen Conference champion Riders finish the season with a record of 14-4. All four losses came against probably the state’s three best teams — Padua (twice), Charter and Division II state finalist Caravel.

“I felt like the first 10 minutes we played well,” said CR coach Darrell Gravatt. “Then they got one and it was all downhill from there.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten Padua. Some years are real tight and we just can’t seem to get over the hump. And some year it’s not as tight. Nothing ever seems to go enough our way for us to get over the hump. They’re a great team.”

There was reason to think Wednesday’s contest might be closer. The Pandas edged the Riders by a score of only 2-1 on April 2.
But Padua dominated the rematch.

CR’s Julia Zipp kicks past Padua’s Haley Dougherty in the first half.

The game’s first goal came on a bad break for the Riders about 10 minutes into the contest.

Padua sent in a long volley from about 30 yards out that CR goalie Elyana Simpson stepped up to catch in a crowd. But the ball slipped through her hands and Kristi Cox just had to tap the ball into the open net to give the Pandas a 1-0 lead.

About 10 minutes later, Padua made it 2-0. This time sophomore Sophia Marini got off a clean shot from close range and buried it in the far side of the goal.

With 12:41 left in the half, the Pandas made it 3-0. Padua’s Paige Kenton out-ran two CR defenders for a ball and got off a shot that Simpson got a piece of but still made it into the goal.

Any thoughts of a CR comeback ended pretty quickly after Kenton scored again less than two minutes into the second half.

The Riders’ Macy Ramsey battles against Padua’s Juliana DelliCompagni in the first half.

Cox then added her second goal about five minutes later to stretch Padua’s advantage to 5-0.

The contest was part of a state tournament doubleheader at Dover. The first game — a Division II semifinal between Tower Hill and Newark Charter — was delayed by lightning and then a heavy downpour.

Rather than wait for that game to finish in Dover’s small stadium, the CR-Padua contest was moved to the Senators’ big stadium where it started about a half hour behind schedule.

Padua’s victory means that the girls’ soccer state finals doubleheader will be an all-New Castle County event.

Tower Hill, which edged Newark Charter 1-0 on Wednesday, will face top-seeded Caravel in the Division II championship game.

Wednesday’s loss not withstanding, this year’s CR seniors put together an impressive career resume. Along with a pair of appearances in the state finals, the Riders also reached the semis twice and won four Henlopen titles.

“It was a great season,” said Gravatt. “It’s hard to win every game. The teams we lost to are very good teams. I’m real proud of the girls.

“Overall, it’s a good picture. It’s just a tough way to go out tonight.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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