Panthers return with strong senior class

 

Delaware State News file photo/Dave Chambers

Delaware State News file photo/Dave Chambers

WOODSIDE — They had come oh so close to making their dream come true.

So losing to Cape Henlopen, 3-1, like Polytech High did in last year’s DIAA field hockey state finals was pretty difficult for the Panthers to accept.

“I’ve never been so upset in my life,” said senior midfielder Jamie Trabaudo. “We’re all so close and … the younger kids felt like we disappointed them (the seniors) with not bringing it home.”

Luckily for those underclassmen, though, they get another shot at trying to capture the Panthers’ first state championship in the sport.

Led by a strong senior class, Polytech is again expected to be one of the state’s top field hockey teams this fall.

The Panthers host their annual Play Day on Saturday at 9 a.m. with 20 teams from around the state slated to participate.

That eight-player senior class is an impressive 42-11-1 over the last three seasons. Polytech made back-to-back trips to the semifinals before reaching the title game for the first time last year.

Coach Lynn Richardson knows there’s reasons for the Panthers to have high expectations this fall. But she’d also like her players to keep the same low-key approach they’ve had in past years.

“I want them to enjoy their senior year,” said Richardson. “They have the experience and they definitely have the tools. But, as everybody knows, you’ve got to play every game, you’ve got to play every minute, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

“I think us being like a family really helps, too,” said junior defender Camryn Dennis. “We have great chemistry together. We always have a good time at practice. We just have fun playing what we love to play.”

Leading the way for Polytech are Traubado and junior defender Camryn Dennis, who were both first-team All-Staters a year ago. Also back is four-year starting goalie Lauren Lee, a first-team all-Henlopen Northern Division selection, along with senior midfielder Alie McKay and senior defender Kaitlin Bergold, who were both second-team all-North picks.

Also returning are sophomore Maddie McKay, an honorable mention all-North pick, and senior starters Katie Richardson and Morgan Cook. The other seniors on the team are Emmalee Dellert and Taylor Johnson.

Even with some promising newcomers added to the mix, the Panthers don’t want to take anything for granted.

“As we’re seeing our team and the younger ones coming up and saying, ‘Wow, we’re getting better this year,’” said Dennis, “you have to realize that other schools are also getting new players and they’re getting better as well. So you have to work 10 times harder.”

“She (Lynn Richardson) tells us that we start new every season,” said Trabaudo. “We’ve already been working so hard because everyone on the team knows that we’re playing for that (state title). There’s nothing that we want more than that for our school.”

Clearly, four-time defending state champion Cape Henlopen is still the team to beat in the state. The Vikings have handed the Panthers five of their 11 losses over the past three seasons.

The two teams are scheduled to square off in Lewes on Oct. 22.

Richardson, whose squad opens the season on Sept. 11 at Pocomoke, Md., knows there are plenty of other good teams in the Henlopen Conference as well.

“We’ve got to compete with the Henlopen Conference all season long,” she said.

But, on the other hand, Polytech’s seniors know they have to put everything they have into trying to win a state crown this fall.

It’s their last chance.

“It’s really sad that we’re all seniors,” said Trabaudo. “We’ve all been on varsity together basically since we were freshmen. We definitely want to end our career with a state championship — nothing less.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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