Panthers aiming to unseat Cape in girls’ lax finals

DOVER — If familiarity were all it takes to beat another team, Polytech High might like its chances tonight.

But the Panthers’ familiarity with Cape Henlopen only makes them realize just how difficult the task is.

Second-seeded Polytech (15-1) knows it has to be at its best to knock off the top-seeded Vikings (13-4) in the DIAA girls’ lacrosse state championship game today at 7:30 p.m. at the new Dover High mini stadium.

Cape is going for an unprecedented seventh straight state title.

“We know how explosive Cape can be and P.J. (Kesmodel) is a fantastic coach,” said Polytech coach Lynn Richardson. “We’re going to need a perfect game — and we’re going to try. We’re doing our best.”

The Panthers did have a perfect start, jumping out to a 3-0 lead when the two teams met on April 28. But the Vikings took over from there, running away to a 19-9 victory.

Polytech has never beaten Cape in its short history in the sport while the Vikings haven’t lost to a Delaware squad since they started their run of state championships. With its six state championships, Cape is tied with St. Andrews for the most state crowns since the DIAA began holding an official state tournament in 1998.

“The first time we played them we came out quick and ready to play,” said Richardson. “But they’re just such a talented group and they’re a deep team. We really respect them. We probably need to play a slower game.

“We know that they’re going to double us and try to pick up the pace and have us have turnovers. We’ve been working on that for the last couple weeks and hopefully we can give them a game.”

Many of the players in tonight’s game also played in the field hockey state title game in the fall when Cape beat Poltech, 3-1. While that may have no bearing on the lacrosse finals, there’s so question that the two teams know each other pretty well.

“The really neat thing is the girls all know each other,” said Richardson. “Some of them play together in the summer, they respect each other. I think it’ll be a great experience for us and for them and for the Henlopen Conference,”

Baseball

Dover trying to return to semis: Fifth-seeded Dover will be trying to reach the baseball state semifinals for a third straight year when it faces No. 4 Hodgson today.

The second-round state tourney contest is being played on the Silver Eagles’ home field — just south of Newark — at 4 p.m. Both teams are 15-4.

“It’s going to be a tough one,” said senior pitcher Jared Rowley. “But we like travelling up north. Hopefully we’ll get it done. We’ve got to make our way back to Frawley (Stadium).”

Over the last two seasons, the Senators have won their last three road state tourney games (not including neutral-site games at Frawley). That includes victories at A.I. duPont, Salesianum and Archmere.

Dover beat Hodgson, 8-2, in the first round of the 2013 state tournament.

“They don’t want to quit yet,” coach Dave Gordon said about his players. “There’s 11 seniors year here, they still want me to be their coach. I told them I’ll see them at practice Monday. It’s exciting.”

Cape Henlopen (12-7), the 10th seed, is the only other Henlopen Conference squad still alive in the baseball tourney. The Vikings face No. 2 Salesianum (16-2) today at 4 p.m. at Frawley Stadium.

Cape has won eight of its last nine games.

Tennis

States finally finish: Six days after they were orginally scheduled to conclude, the DIAA tennis state tournaments are slated to finish today in Newark.

The first round of matches are scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. with the last matches beginning as courts open up.

Caesar Rodney leads Tower Hill by one point in the girls’ tourney with the Riders’ boys one point behind the Hillers on the boys’ side. Two points are awarded for a victory in the finals.

In the girls’ second-singles bracket, CR’s second-sseeded Hannah Morris squares off with Tower Hill’s top-seeded Grace Dignazio in what could be a pivotal match.

In the boys’ tournament, the Riders’ second-seeded Trey Parker faces the Hillers’ top-seeded Drew Manning at second singles while CR’s second-seeded team of Alex Feuerstein-David Haynes takes on Tower Hill’s top-seeded Malcolm Johnson-James Fleming at first doubles.

Also in the boys’ tourney, Milford junior Colt Williamson will be trying to win his first state crown when he takes on Tower Hiull eighth-grader Robbie Ward at first singles.

Golf

State tourney opens at Wilm.: The two-day DIAA golf state tournament gets started this morning at Wilmington Country Club.

Defending state champion Salesianum is the favorite to win the title again.

Caesar Rodney, which won the two previous state championships, is the top downstate contender after capturing both the Henlopen Conference regular-season and tournament crowns.

The Riders know they’re considered underdogs this year but that’s OK with them.

“These don’t want to just go up there, they want to go there and do well,” said coach John Newman. “We’re not ging to change. I don’t know what’s going to happen but we’re going to try to win.”

Wilmington has long had a reputation as the state’s most exclusive golf course. CR senior Matt Rosal, who tees off with the first group at 8 a.m. today, said it’s fun just to play a course like that.

“It’s one of the nicest courses I’ve ever played,” he said. “It’s a very exclusive place and for good reason. I’m looking forward to it.

“The greens can be a little bit tricky — they’re a little slopey. Someone was telling me, whoever putts well is going to with the tournament.”

Softball

Four still alive in tourney: Delmar, Laurel, Polytech and CR will all be in action when the softball state quarterfinals are played today.

The sixth-seeded Riders (14-5) probably face the toughest odds when they travel to third-seeded Caravel (14-5), one of the state’s traditonal powers.

Still, CR has won 14 of it last 16 games following an 0-3 start.

“We’re coming together at the right time,” said CR coach Paul Damask. “That’s what it’s about in the state tournament.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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