Left is right as Cape Henlopen wins fourth straight Division I field hockey crown
DOVER - Cape Henlopen noticed the left side was open when it attempted penalty corners against Polytech early in the championship game of the DIAA Division I Field Hockey Tournament on Saturday at Dover High School.
The top-seeded Vikings took advantage with a pair of goals from Samantha Connors in the second quarter en route to 3-0 victory over the seventh-seeded Panthers.
“We always run the first plays pretty similar every game just to see what the defense is giving to us,” Cape coach Kate Austin said after the Vikings’ fourth straight D-I title. “Once we saw the pass [to the goalie’s] right was open and we were getting the ball across, we ran the same play we scored on quite a few times just to see if the defense was going to make an adjustment.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Vikings (13-1) earned their sixth penalty corner in the 10th minute of the second quarter.
The play started with a pass from the corner to the top of the circle. Then the ball crossed to Connors, who was stationed at the goalpost. She guided it into the cage to give Cape Henlopen a 1-0 lead.
The same scenario played out in the final minute of the first half, as Connors scored from point-blank range on the post to the right of the goalkeeper to make it 2-0.
“I was on the post, and we kind of figured out that if we got it across and beat a couple of defenders, it would work out well,” Connors said. “That’s exactly what happened. It was a little scary because I was like ‘don’t miss it.’”
Cape Henlopen added its lead late in the third quarter when Reagan Ciabattoni received a penalty corner pass at the top of the circle and fired a rocket into the cage to make it 3-0.
The Vikings remained in control from there, limiting the scoring chances Polytech (8-7) had to secure another state title.
“It’s a feeling that I’ve experienced many times. But each time, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling,” Ciabattoni said. “It’s just crazy. We’ve worked so hard this season that it’s just amazing.”
Connors believed Cape reached its peak in the final.
“It’s a really great feeling. Especially for all my teammates, they’ve worked so hard this year,” Connors said. “It’s been a shortened season, but it’s been a long time. We just worked really hard and have gotten a lot better. This was probably our best game.”
Reagan Thomas had four saves for Polytech. Julie Heffernan had one save for the Vikings.
DIAA Division I Field Hockey championship
Cape Henlopen 3, Polytech 0
Polytech 0 0 0 0 - 0
Cape Henlopen 0 2 1 0 - 3
Second quarter- Connors, C, 9:39; Connors, C, 14:30.
Third quarter- Ciabattoni, C, 13:19.
Shots- P 1, C 7.
Corners-P 1, C 19.
Saves- P 4 (Thomas), C 1 (Heffernan).