Riders set for rematch vs. Central after 2016 soccer tourney loss

CR’s David Haynes (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — Losses as heartbreaking as that one don’t fade away overnight.

First, Caesar Rodney High’s boys’ soccer team let in an own goal.

Then the Riders hit the crossbar in overtime of their DIAA Division I state quarterfinal game against Sussex Central last November.

Finally, the Golden Knights eliminated CR in penalty kicks, 6-4, when Central goalie Watson Dorsinvil made a pair of clutch saves.

“It was terrible,” said the Riders’ David Haynes, now a senior. “It was one of those games that I think I’m going to remember for years to come.

“The fact that we should have won in regulation, I believe. … then going to PKs — and I missed one of my PKs, which is terrible and haunting.”

But if there was a silver lining to that crushing loss, it was CR knew it would return all but two starters from a squad that finished 12-4 and ran off 12 straight victories in one stretch.

Sure enough, the Riders have started out 4-0 this fall. That includes a season-opening 2-1 victory over Wilmington Charter, a team that CR lost to four years in a row.

On Thursday night, the Riders will get another chance at Sussex Central when they host the Golden Knights at 5:30 p.m. in a Henlopen Northern Division matchup.

CR’s Thomas McPoyle (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Central beat CR twice last year on its way to capturing the North crown. Senior forward Thomas McPoyle hasn’t forgotten the sting of that state tournament loss, either.

“It was tough, especially being one of the guys taking PKs,” he said. “It was a little unfortunate that we couldn’t get the job done. But we’re hoping for a new game against Central.”

“We’re motivated to not put ourselves in that position again,” said Haynes.

“It never gets any easier,” veteran coach Darrell Gravatt said about losing on penalty kicks. “We played very well. And we made a lot of improvement from the first time we played Central.
“We were real pleased and excited coming into this season. … Now they (the returning players) are battle tested. They’ve got a year of starting varsity under their belt. That might make a difference this year.”

Of the eight Riders who earned all-North honors last season, six were underclassmen. The first-team all-division players returning include Steven Ferrandino, goalie Nathan Reid, McPoyle and Haynes.

Ferrandino joins McPoyle and Haynes as a team captain while Reid is a three-year starter in the net.

Other honorees that are back are Tommy Pomatto and Jalen Victory. CR has nine seniors but also five sophomores and a freshman on the roster.

“I really like the chemistry we have,” said Haynes. “We’re all friends. We get along, we hang out a lot.”

“I like the depth we have,” said McPoyle. “The youngsters coming up have the skills that are needed for a varsity-level team. We’re building up very well in the first couple of games. We’re hoping to bring out the final masterpiece by the end of the season.”

McPoyle has a team-high six goals for the Riders so far with senior Kyle Wentling adding three goals and a pair of assists.

Haynes netted the game-winner in the 79th minute in the 2-1 win over Charter. CR lost to the Force, 4-0, a year ago as part of an 0-3 start.

“It definitely starts the season off on a good note,” said Haynes. “Charter’s always in the top three or four in the state every year. They always bring a competitive match.

“Opening with a win, that’s really big. It shows we’re on the right path. (But) we’ve got to stay focused because there might be 11 more Charters out there for the rest of the season, as far as we know.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.