WILMINGTON – A goal by junior Marissa Sipala midway through the first half stood up for Padua, as the Pandas held off Wilmington Christian for a 1-0 victory Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the DIAA field hockey tournament at Tower Hill School. Padua advances to the semifinals, where it will meet three-time defending state champion Cape Henlopen.
The fourth-seeded Pandas and fifth-seeded Warriors were evenly matched much of the first half. The Pandas applied some pressure, but could not solve Wilmington Christian goalkeeper Emma Whitesel until Sipala emerged from a scramble in front of the Wilmington Christian and found an opening at the 9:45 mark. The goal was unassisted.
Wilmington Christian threatened in the final 30 seconds of the first half. The Warriors were awarded a penalty corner with 25 seconds to go. The Padua defense stopped two shots before a ball got past Pandas goalkeeper Danielle Clerval with eight seconds left, but the goal was immediately ruled to have been kicked in.
Padua had some early chances in the second half, but the Warriors controlled the play for most of the last 23 minutes. They had several penalty corners and quality offensive chances, but the Pandas’ defense and Clerval kept the ball out of the net. Clerval came up with one of her four saves after a penalty corner at the 38-minute mark. The Warriors nearly tied it at the 41:03 mark, but junior Annika Roberts’ shot went just wide right.
Wilmington Christian had two more serious chances to tie the score, but a two-on-one ended with a wayward pass, and another shot, this one at 53:35, was wide of Clerval. Padua regained a measure of control in the final minutes and held on for the win on the chilly afternoon.
Padua finished with 10 shots, while the Warriors had four. WCS had more penalty corners, nine to Padua’s six. The Warriors finish the season with a 14-3 record, while Padua improved to 15-2. The team’s reward is a matchup with top-seeded Cape Henlopen on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Dover High School. The Vikings came from behind on Saturday to defeat Sussex Tech, 3-2, scoring twice in the last two minutes, including the winner with just four seconds to go in regulation.
The other semifinal will pit No. 2 Tower Hill vs. No. 6 Polytech at 6 p.m. at Appoquinimink High School. Tickets for Wednesday’s games are available at diaa.ticketleap.com.