HOCKESSIN – Padua’s top-ranked soccer team continued its impressive march toward the postseason on the afternoon of May 7, blitzing No. 3 Charter of Wilmington, 5-0, at Hockessin Soccer Club. After a four-game stretch earlier this season that included three one-goal wins and a 1-0 loss, the Pandas have won their last five – four by shutout – by a combined 25-1.
Many fans had not even reached the field before the Pandas took the lead, as Brianna Niggebrugge fed Ashlee Brentlinger for a tally in the first minute of the match. Niggebrugge also picked up the assist on Padua’s second goal, which came in the 10th minute. This time, her crossing pass found an open Kristi Cox, who tapped it into the empty net.
Padua kept the pressure on, at one point sending a header over the Force net. The Pandas narrowly missed on a free kick that was deflected on net but knocked wide. They also had a chance on a corner kick. Charter had a good opportunity about 25 minutes in when potent scorer Sheyenne Allen caused a Padua turnover, got some space and sent a shot in on goalkeeper Katie Szczerba, who made the save.
Freshman Sydni Wright increased the lead to three in the 33rd minute. She took a pass from Rachel Simpson and launched a long kick over Force keeper Gabby Simmons. That was the halftime score.
Paige Kenton added both Pandas goals in the second half. The first came in the 54th as Kenton corralled a loose ball after a Sophia Marini shot. She sent it high into the net. Then, in the 62nd, the Pandas sent a free kick off the crossbar, and again Kenton was there to pick up the loose change. Brieanna Hallo received the assist.
The second half featured some defense as well. Szczerba had to make a nice save on a give-and-go between Allen and Jaiden Vega to keep Charter off the board early on. Charter’s wall sacrificed to stop a Pandas free kick from just outside the box a few minutes later. The Force thought they had solved Szczerba midway through the second, but a goal was negated by an offsides call.
The Pandas outshot Charter, 19-5, and had three corner kicks to one for the Force, as they improved to 12-1. Szczerba was credited with three saves. They return to Hockessin Soccer Club on Thursday at 3:30 to meet St. Mark’s.
For Charter, Simmons had 12 saves, many of the acrobatic variety. The Force (9-3) take on Delaware Military Academy on Wednesday at Kirkwood Soccer Club at 3:45 p.m.