Riders snap skid vs. Cape with 11-6 boys’ lax tourney win

CAMDEN — The last time they played Cape Henlopen, Caesar Rodney High’s players thought they let one slip away.

The Riders weren’t about to make that same mistake twice.

Seventh-seeded CR picked the perfect time to snap its four-game losing streak against the Vikings, downing No. 10 Cape, 11-6, in the first round of the DIAA boys’ lacrosse state tournament on Wednesday night.

By avenging an 11-9 loss to Cape on April 27, the Riders (10-6) will get another chance to avenge a regular-season loss when it plays at second-seeded Tower Hill in Saturday’s quarterfinals. The contest is slated for 7 p.m. in Wilmington.

CR also lost to the Hillers, 11-9, on May 11.

After scoring a career-high five goals, junior Jacob Copio said the Riders are simply playing better now than they were earlier in the year.

“We came out ready to play this time,” he said. “There was a lot of energy and we just came out and did it. It was fun. It felt awesome.

“Throughout the season, we worked hard. … We’re just really coming together. I feel like we’re working a lot harder than we did at the beginning of the season. It’s working.”

“They just made a couple more plays than we did,” CR coach Matt Faircloth said about the first meeting with Cape. “But I thought tonight we made some pretty good plays. … We were playing pretty well (earlier in the season) we just weren’t finishing games. We kind of battled that this year — finding that cohesiveness — but I think they have (found it).”

The Riders never trailed on Wednesday in a contest that was tied only 1-1 after the first quarter. When Copio spun and hit a shot from a tough angle with just 16.1 seconds left before halftime, CR owned a 7-2 advantage.

Copio netted four of his goals in the first half. He’s worked himself into a starting attack spot since the start of the season.

“He’s really been chomping at the bit,” said Faircloth. “He’s worked incredibly hard. He wanted to know what he could do to make this team better and I think it really showed tonight.”

Demetrius Stevenson and Patrick Matsko each added two goals and a pair of assists for CR with Noah Longest and Luke Rankin scoring one goal apiece.

Copio’s last goal was a big one. The junior scooped up a rebound and fired home a shot to give the Riders their 11-6 lead with just 1:31 left.

The goal came after the Henlopen Conference champion Vikings (9-7) reeled off three straight goals to close within 10-6 with 2:01 still remaining.
CR junior goalie Tyler Gross made a couple big saves earlier in the contest.

Cape got two goals each from Brock Maloomian and Erik-Stephane Stancofski. Dillon Mocci and Robert Neall also scored goals.

Before Wednesday, the Riders’ last three losses to the Vikings came by a total of only four goals. That included a 9-8 setback in last year’s state semifinals.

While beating Tower Hill on its own field won’t be easy, Faircloth likes the idea of the Riders getting another second chance.

“If you’re going to be in the playoffs, you know you’re going to play high-quality teams every game,” he said. “They also know it’s a one-game season from here on out. Luckily enough we get to come to practice tomorrow and prepare for Tower Hill.

“That was one of the games that really hurt these guys,” Faircloth said about the loss to the Hillers. “It woke them up a little bit. They realized, we can do it, we’ve just got to finish.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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