Dover edges rival CR 2-1 in field hockey

CAMDEN — It’s not like the game was over just two minutes into it.

But Dover High’s field hockey players felt pretty good about themselves when they took a lead on rival Caesar Rodney only 1:27 into Tuesday’s matchup.

“It builds confidence,” said junior Joy Adkins. “Once you get one, you know that you can do it again.”

Once out in front, the Senators never relinquished the lead either, posting a 2-1 victory over the Riders in a Henlopen Conference contest.

For Dover (5-3-1 in conference and overall), the win was its second straight over CR (4-3, 5-4), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Coach Denise Kimbro said she can’t remember the Senators ever winning on the Riders’ current home field.

More importantly, the win keeps Dover on track to earn the program’s third straight state tournament bid. After ending a three-game losing streak, the Senators are now unbeaten (3-0-1) in their last four games.

“It was a must-win,” said Kimbro. “If we hadn’t won, who knows what would have happened?”

Not that Dover needed any more incentive against CR.

“It’s really exciting because they’re our rival school,” said Adkins. “Every time you beat your rival school it’s exciting.”

“I just love beating them honestly — I love beating any team,” said senior goalie Brooklyn Peete.

Dover grabbed its quick 1-0 lead when Rachel Mills took a pass from Adkins and scored at the 28:33 mark of the first half, The Senators then made it 2-0 when Adkins waited patiently for a pass from Emily Mabus to make it through a tangle of players and smacked in the ball from in front with 6:18 left in the half.

The Riders closed within 2-1 on a goal from Molly Harris with 1:12 remaining before halftime.

But Peete and Dover’s defense never let CR get any closer. Peete made eight saves as the Senators outshot CR, 12-9. Both teams had six corners.

Dover did have a second-half goal waved off.

“We made mistakes and we panicked but they did not quit,” Kimbro said about her players. “And that is new for us. We’re working really hard to overcome that — make a mistake but keep going.”

Second-year Riders’ coach Casey Shelor thought the Senators’ quick goal was a big moment in the contest.

“We didn’t play from the very first whistle, which is unfortunate,” she said. “We kind of got caught on our heels to start the game. Dover did a very nice job, they connected their passes really well.

“I told the girls, you can’t wait to get punched in the face to fight back. You have to be ready to go.”

CR, which got nine saves from goalie Caitlin Harris, has already matched its victory total for all last season. Shelor is still optimistic the Riders can work their way into the state tourney.

The program’s former JV coach, Shelor has been coaching this group of players since they were freshmen. There are 10 seniors on CR’s roster.

“They know the expectations and they’re definitely willing to fulfill them,” said Shelor. “They are a very committed team. We want to make it to the tournament this year.”

The Senators, too, want to make it to the tourney. Dover plays another big game on Thursday when it goes to Polytech, last year’s state runnerup.

Earlier this season, the Senators lost just 2-0 — on two late goals — to defending state champion Cape Henlopen before falling 2-1 to Delmar, another of the state’s top programs.

“We’re not going to win everything,” said Adkins. “But we always have to come out each game stronger than we were before.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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