Senators grab momentum to return to hockey semis

Dover’s Ellisyn Arthur passes on a assisted goal against Appoquinmink’s Olivia Morgan in the second quarter during girls field hockey championship at Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Sports momentum is a very real thing.

That’s why Dover High field hockey coach Denise Kimbro always tells her players that the two minutes following a goal are critical — whether you’re the team that scored or the one that got scored on.

The Senators proved that point when they tallied second-quarter goals just 16 seconds apart in their state tournament matchup with Appoquinimink on Thursday afternoon.

That scoring burst put fourth-seeded Dover in control of what turned into a 6-2 victory over the No. 5 Jaguars in the DIAA Division I quarterfinals.

Dover’s Superia Clark celebrates with her teammates after a goal against Appoquinmink’s Olivia Morgan in the second quarter during girls field hockey championship at Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The win sends the Senators (10-3) back to the state semifinals where they will face top-seeded Cape Henlopen (12-1) on Tuesday at a time and site TBD. It’s their third trip to the semis in the last four seasons.

Dover was leading Appo only 1-0 when Chelsea Johnson tallied a goal with 10:35 left before halftime and Superia Clark followed it up with another goal 16 seconds later. After leading 3-0 at intermission, the Senators never led by fewer than two in the second half.

“Whoever scores, the two minutes after you score are really crucial,” said Clark. “I think we just want to rack up as many goals as we can. Usually in practice we do this drill where we start at the 50 and have to get down there and score in like 30 seconds,

“So we really try to get goals as soon as possible.”

Conversely, Dover didn’t want to let Appo (8-4-1) grab any momentum from its own goals, either.

Dover’s Chelsea Johnson takes a long shot on goal against Appoquinmink’s Sydney Carr in the first quarter during girls field hockey championship at Dover on Thursday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

So when the Jaguars cut the Senators’ lead to 3-1 on a goal from Alani Lawrence early in the third quarter, it was big when Clark answered four minutes later to get Dover’s advantage back to 4-1.

“We needed insurance goals so we knew we had to keep going,” said Johnson. “One goal wouldn’t be enough.”

In the fourth quarter, the Senators sandwiched goals from Johnson and Clark around a goal from Appo’s Samantha McMahon to post the comfortable victory. The six goals were a season high.

Dover finished with decisive advantages of 17-4 in shots and 8-2 in corners. Clark collected three goals and two assists, Johnson had two goals and an assist and Ellisyn Arthur contributed a goal and an assist.

Freshman goalie Julie Johnson came up with 11 saves for Appo.

Now comes the tough part for the Senators — trying to get past three-time defending Division i state champion Cape Henlopen. Dover fell to the Vikings, 5-0, in the last game of the regular season.

Of course, the Senators are the last Henlopen North squad to beat Cape, upending the Vikings, 2-1, in 2017. This year’s Dover seniors were freshmen that fall.

“We have really been working hard this last week at practice, just connecting all the things that were lacking in the first game we played against them,” said Clark. “We’re really coming together and being more offensively driven and defensively driven. We’re just going to play our game and leave it all on the field.”

“We watched the film (of the first meeting),” said Kimbro. “We know what we didn’t do so we know what we have to work on. We’re going in there, we have nothing to lose. Nothing. We’re just looking forward to the opportunity to keep playing.”