Riders advance in Division I soccer tourney 4-1

The Riders celebrate after scoring their first goal goal early in the DIAA tournament match against Newark Saturday night at Caravel Academy. (Special To The Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

BEAR — Tommy Pomatto used two hands while Steven Ferrandino’s right foot provided a stunner.

The Caesar Rodney High boys’ soccer team scored early, and in a variety of ways in its first round Division I state tournament contest.

Pomatto’s long throw in led to an own goal in the first five minutes to spur the Riders on to four unanswered goals as they defeated Newark High 4-1 on Saturday. The third seeded Riders will play No. 2 Appoquinimink High on Wednesday at Smyrna High (6 p.m.) in the semifinals.

CR’s Steven Ferrandino advances the ball past fallen Newark defender Angel Alvarez.

David Haynes added another goal late in the first half while Ferrandino took a free kick which led to another own goal in the second.

Pomatto created multiple scoring opportunities with his bombing throw-ins. He routinely sent them into the center of the box, even right on the goal-line. That’s how CR went up 1-0 when Pomatto chucked a throw right under the crossbar where it was deflected into the net.

Pomatto is also a baseball player which he said helps with the mechanics of being able to take such a long throw in. He said he discovered the skill during a scrimmage and the Riders have put it into their gameplan.

“It was one game, a scrimmage, I saw a guy down the field and I thought, ‘I think I can get it to him,’” Pomatto said. “Everyone was like, ‘Wow.’ So we try to do it more often now.”

“I’m surrounded by some of the best players in the state so I just try to get it to them,” Pomatto added. “Sometimes, you just get lucky.”

Jalen Victory of Caesar Rodney closes in trying to block pass by Newark’s Maddyan Ata.

While the first goal was a spectacle, Ferrandino doubled the advantage with a more traditional soccer goal.

He collected a loose ball of a clearance from a corner kick near the left sideline. Ferrandino beat two defenders and put the ball on his right foot, curling into the low, far corner from 23 yards out.

“That’s my spot,” Ferrandino said. “I usually try to take people on from there and shoot. Right when it came off my foot, I knew it was going in. If we get early goals, we get a lot of momentum and usually puts the other team in a bad mentality.”

“Tremendous skill,” said CR coach Darrell Gravatt. “You won’t find a lot of teams who have the technical ability that he has.”

CR goalie Nathan Reid made a sliding stop to deny a breakaway opportunity to keep the Yellow Jackets off the board in the first half. Haynes scored the third goal when he banged home a rebound in the final 10 minutes of the first.

CR’s David Haynes and Angel Alvarez of Newark battle for possession in the first half Saturday night.

The Riders are now back in the semifinals after a tough first round exit a year ago when they fell to Sussex Central in a penalty shootout.

“Obviously last year ended in heartbreak so we were ready to get back here,” Reid said. “The nerves were gone pretty early and we were really to play. “We were well organized and we had a good shape the whole game. I’m proud of the guys.”

It sets up a rematch with Appoquinimink who was one of only two teams to beat Caesar Rodney this season. Appoquinimink defeated the Riders Oct. 3, 5-1, outscoring Caesar Rodney 3-0 in the second half.

“I think we were right with them in the first half but the second half things went downhill,” Reid said. “I think we can play with them but we know it will be a challenge. We’ve come a long way since that game.”

The Riders have won nine in a row since that loss.

“I thought we played very well,” Gravatt said. “We played a good possession game. I thought that was the best our backline has played all year, them and our keeper were outstanding and we have some great d-mids. We’re very dynamic and I think we have a complete team.”

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