Smith’s two-goal game leads Cape Henlopen to Division I field hockey final

Cape’s Alia Marshall, right, celebrates her first-half goal with teammates during the Division I field hockey state semifinals at Rullo Stadium in Newark. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

NEWARK — Every time the Cape Henlopen High field hockey team takes the field, the Vikings’ offensive unit’s primary objective is to score a goal within the first five minutes.

The Vikings were unable to put one on the scoreboard within the first five minutes of Tuesday night’s Division I field hockey state semifinal showdown with Polytech High at University of Delaware’s Fred P. Rullo Stadium.

Instead, the top-seeded Vikings settled for a goal within the first 13 minutes during a 3-0 shutout win over the fourth-seeded Panthers for their 15th straight win and shutout.

Polytech’s Mackenzie Estrada battles Cape’s Anna Stancofski.

“We wanted a goal five minutes in. Our goal is always in the first five minutes to score a goal, because that really just sets the pace for the game and it takes the wind out of a team’s sail if you can score that early in a big game. It’s deflating,” said Cape coach Kate Austin.

“So we didn’t reach our goal, but we got shots off and we had a few missed opportunities in those first five minutes.”

Cape edged Polytech 10-0 in shots on goal and 10-0 in penalty corners.

Junior attack Cameron Smith paced the offense, netting a pair of goals to set her team up with a state title showdown with second-seeded Padua Academy Friday at the University of Delaware. The time of the state final game is yet to be determined.

Cape’s Jacqueline Cannon hits the ball past Polytech’s Megan Popp.

“We really just focused on creating those opportunities in the circle and drawing corners. I think we did a good job drawing those corners,” said Austin. “We were just moving at a really high speed tonight, all over the field people were just flying and that’s what it takes to beat a good team.”

Senior midfielder Alia Marshall scored one goal — the opening goal at the 17:09 mark of the first half — and assisted on one of Smith’s two second-half goals.

“We knew they were going to pack the circle and play tight defense, so our main goal I think was just running the offense quickly,” Marshall said. “Right off the bat, right from the start of the game, we were hoping to get a goal or a corner just to set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Two of the team’s three goals came on penalty corner attempts, including Marshall’s early goal.

“It was really exciting scoring that goal, and I think just getting a goal in the first half was also part of our goal today,” she said. “So, to be able to do it myself was even better.”

When Smith extended the lead at the 20:48 mark of the second half with her first of two goals on the night, she wasn’t even trying to put the ball in the back of the cage.

The Vikings’ Alia Marshall, left, battles the Panthers’ Regan Kenney.

Smith drove the ball from just inside the circle, hoping to put it close enough to the cage for a teammate to tip it in.

“I was just going to take a shot and aim it towards the tippers, but luckily it just went in and it was just the luck of it,” she explained. “I really didn’t think I was going to score on that play, I normally don’t hit so it was a shocker to me.”

Smith cemented the victory by scoring a goal off a Marshall assist at the 4:01 mark of the second half.

“The ball had just come out from the goalie, so I was trying to get a shot up, but I couldn’t get the perfect touch on it,” Marshall said. “So, thankfully, Cameron was there to put it in for me.”

“Basically, we’re all about finishing on plays, and it was right there so I was able to tap it in and get our third goal,” said Smith.

After struggling to finish on plays during Cape’s 1-0 regular season win over Polytech Oct. 11, Cape made sure the offense finished on plays and capitalized on scoring opportunities the second time around.

“We knew they were going to pack the circle, so we were able to work around them and tap it in,” Smith said.

We didn’t have as many corners as we did last time we played them, but I think what did help us is the faster surface,” Cannon said of the UD turf. “We made sure to keep the ball on the ground for easy tips, we scored twice on corners and the ball was getting out faster.”

Junior goalkeeper Marlee Geppert posted the shutout without even seeing a shot on goal come her way from the Panthers’ offense.
Polytech goalkeeper Holly Rembold made six saves.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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