Unbeaten CR eyes today’s Dave Reynolds boys lax festival

CR’s Demetrius Stevenson (Delaware State News file photo)

CAMDEN — Maybe if they could have started the game over, the outcome would have been different.

Certainly, if Caesar Rodney High’s boys’ lacrosse players could have erased the first quarter, they know there was a lot to like about the way they played that day.

But that’s not the way sports work, of course.

So all CR can hope is that it learned something from its 16-11 loss to eventual-state champion Salesianum in the DIAA state semifinals last spring.
The Riders trailed 8-0 in the first quarter before closing within three at one point in the second half.

“It definitely shows what we can do,” said senior attackman Josh Cosden. “In the second, third and fourth quarters, we played as a team. Just seeing how close it was at the end, it just shows we had the opportunities.”

CR would love to get that kind of opportunity again at the end of this season.

Right now, the Riders are 5-0 going into today’s Dave Reynolds Lacrosse Festival at Wesley College’s Miller Stadium. The annual event is held in memory of Reynolds, the former CR standout.

There are four boys’ games slated for today: First State Military vs. Smyrna, 11 a.m., Dover vs. Polytech, 1 p.m., Cape Henlopen vs. Salesianum, 3 p.m. and Caesar Rodney vs. St. Mark’s, 7 p.m. Also, CR’s girls will take on St. Mark’s at 5 p.m.

The Cape-Sallies contest is a rematch of last year’s state championship game.

The Riders don’t face the Vikings and Sals until the last two games of the regular season but they’ll be anxious to see how the two rivals match up today.

“It’ll be good to see them but we’re really just focused on us,” said senior middie Demetrius Stevenson. “We always have to step up our level — get better each practice, each game — and so by the end of the season be ready for those guys.”

On the other hand, CR would like to think it’s already passed some good tests this season.

The Riders started the schedule with three straight road wins against Maryland schools Queen Annes, Kent Island and Worcester Prep. All three were competitive matchups that CR won by three goals or less.

“Playing the teams in Maryland, they’re definitely tough,” said senior midfielder Noah Longest.

“They’re definitely confidence builders for the team,” said Stevenson. “We can look back to the beginning of the season and see we played three, tough away games.”

Led by first-team All-Stater Stevenson, the Riders have a veteran offense to build around. So far they’ve spread the offense with no one player carrying the scoring load this season.

CR’s leading goal scorers are Cosden (11), Stevenson (10), Longest (8), Jared Wagenhoffer (8), Sean Wooleyhand (7) and Michael Harrington (5).

“As we develop the offense, we try to make everyone understand that they have a role,” said coach Matt Faircloth. “It doesn’t matter where they are on the field. Everybody needs to understand what the role is for the other five guys that are on the offensive side of the field.

“We weren’t that smooth in the first couple games. But it’s almost becoming muscle memory. I think they were thinking too much instead of just reacting and playing the game.”

The Riders have reached at least the state semifinals five times in the last six seasons. They don’t see any reason why their goals shouldn’t be set high again.

Along with Stevenson, junior middie Evan McCleary was a second-team All-Stater while senior Nolan Brockmeyer was an honorable mention pick a year ago. CR’s roster includes 10 seniors.

“These guys just enjoy the game,” said Faircloth. “They enjoy being around one another and it shows.”

“When we do come together, we can do pretty big things,” said Cosden, a second-team all-Henlopen North pick last year. “We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”

“At the end of the day, the main goal is to win a state championship,” said Stevenson, who is headed to Rutgers in the fall. “That’s the goal this year. We worked super hard in the offseason.

“We look back to last year and ask, ‘What could we have done better?’ Now we’re going to implement the things we worked on.”

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