Riders suffer 2-1 OT soccer tourney loss to St. Georges

Caesar Rodney goalkeeper Zander Omans makes a diving save on a shot by St. Georges in the first half of Saturday’s Division I state tournament soccer game. The Riders lost 2-1 in overtime. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — The Caesar Rodney High boys’ soccer team struck first, but St. Georges found a response just in time.

The Hawks scored a pair of goals, one in the final minutes of regulation and one just before the end of overtime to advance out of the first round of the DIAA Division I state tournament on Saturday.

Rene Sanchez netted the two goals for fifth-seeded St. Georges in the 2-1 victory over No. 4 seed Caesar Rodney. The Riders finished the year at 9-2-2- overall.

“It was a good battle of two evenly-matched teams,” said Caesar Rodney first-year coach Dwayne Lavender. “They had a couple of opportunities and they capitalized. We had a couple opportunities and we didn’t. I think if you look at the play, it was pretty even. They got two chances and capitalized on them and we squandered quite a few.”

Sanchez provided the sudden-death winner with a right-footed shot in the 98th minutes, only two minutes away from penalty kicks. He had previously tied the game on a similar goal with seven minutes left in regulation.

The game was scoreless until Sawyer Ott’s header put the Riders in front 1-0 in the 48th minute.

Both teams had their chances throughout, with St. Georges (11-2) having two close-ranged shots palmed away by CR goalie Zander Omans in the first half and Caesar Rodney just skimming an open shot wide which would have doubled the lead in the final 15 minutes.

Sophomore Thanddeus Glasser of the Riders battles St. Georges fullback Kevin Martinez for possession.

The Riders nearly had a penalty kick in stoppage time of the second half after St. Georges goalie Aqil Alhaidari knocked away a loose ball toward the end line. The ball was on its way out of bounds where it was touched by the hand of a St. Georges defender who was standing out of bounds.

Caesar Rodney’s players shouted for a penalty. The referee and linesman conferred and ruled the ball was also out of bounds with the player who touched it, leading to a corner kick, not a penalty kick.

This was the first time since 2016 Caesar Rodney fell in the first round of the tournament. The Riders lost all but three starters from last year’s team, which finished as the state’s runner-up.

Caesar Rodney started multiple underclassmen on Saturday and carried five freshmen and three sophomores on the varsity roster this year.

“It was a good season and I’m proud of the boys,” Lavender said. “Of course we’d like to go further. Our bar is high here and we keep it high. Our expectation is to get in the tournament and move on every year. But it doesn’t always happen that way.”

“I don’t think people expected us to do what we did,” Lavender added. “But we always try to play a good brand of soccer here and play the right way.”