Riders aim to contend for title again in girls soccer

CR’s Kimmy Glasser. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — Kimmy Glasser has all the respect in the world for Padua’s top-notch girls’ soccer program.

But Glasser, a senior at Caesar Rodney High, also plays with some of the Pandas on her club team.

She knows that nobody’s perfect.

“They’re definitely a beatable team,” said Glasser. “They got beat in the state championship last year. Any game, any team can win.

“In March Madness (the NCAA basketball tournament), the No. 1 seed is losing to No. 16. So any team can be beaten on any given day.”

The Riders are going to hope — again — that this is the year they bring home the program’s first DIAA state championship. CR opens the season on Friday by hosting Newark Charter at 6 p.m.

Middletown’s 1-0 upset of Padua in last year’s state finals notwithstanding, however, the Pandas still set the standard for girls’ soccer in the state.

CR’s Jessie Prillaman. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Padua has won eight of the last 12 state crowns (including three after the tourney split into two divisions) while finishing runnerup twice in that span.

More importantly for the Riders, the Pandas have ousted them from the state tournament in each of the last two seasons. A year ago, CR fell to Padua, 7-0, in the Division I semifinals to finish a 13-4 campaign for the Riders.

Over the last two seasons, CR has lost four times to the Pandas by a total of 19-2.

“They’re always a rival and we’re always eager to beat them,” said junior Jesse Prillaman, who netted 34 goals and 14 assists as a sophomore. “This year may be our year. I mean we all go into it wanting the best outcome but whatever happens, happens.”

On paper, there’s a lot to like about this year’s CR squad.

Prillaman was named to the state’s Top XI squad last spring while she, Glasser and junior Macy Ramsey were all first-team All-State selections. Those three are the Riders’ captains.

Glasser has accepted a scholarship from Long Island-Brooklyn.

Other returning starters for CR include senior Sarah Palmer, juniors Megan Powers, Laynee Ford and Madison Fitzugh and sophomore Megan Rigsby. After playing a young squad last season, the Riders still have only three seniors on this year’s roster.

CR’s Macy Ramsey. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“This team is a family,” said Ramsey. “I love them so much. We work together as a team, we play together as a team. We connect very well on the field.

“It makes us better as a team,” she said about CR’s challenging schedule. “We learn from it and then come for them next year.”

“We didn’t come out to play (in the Padua games) as much as I would have liked us to last year,” said Glasser. “We were all kind of down. Some of the people came to the game thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to lose.’

“They’re a really good team,” she said about the Pandas. “We’re just excited to try to compete with them this year.”

During the regular season, the Riders will play the three teams they lost to last year: Padua (April 10 at DE Turf Complex), Wilmington Charter (April 24) and Caravel (May 7).

Darrell Gravatt

CR won its six Henlopen Conference Northern Divisions by a combined score of 38-3 in 20017.

“I think we understand the game,” said Prillaman. “What’s in your brain definitely matters. It’s not all about athleticism. I definitely trust this team. We’re looking good.”

Veteran coach Darrell Gravatt has taken CR to six state championship games. So the goals are still big for the Riders.

“We always have those lofty goals — win the division, win the conference and try to make a huge dent in the state tournament if we can,” said Gravatt.

“We’re on a quest for excellence. We try to aim for perfection — which we’ll never hit — but that’s our standard, perfection. The wins and losses take care of themselves.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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