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Cape Henlopen extends run of dominance in girls lacrosse with championship win over Archmere

Caroline Donovan of Archmere battles Cape Henlopen's Emily Monigle for the state championship game's opening faceoff on May 23 at Dover High School. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

DOVER – The rainstorms that swept across Delaware on the afternoon of May 23 threw some uncertainty into the status of the DIAA state girls lacrosse championship match scheduled for that evening. The skies cleared, and the only thing sweeping across Senator Stadium at Dover High School early on was the Cape Henlopen offense, which scored the first six goals en route to a 15-8 win over Archmere. It was the Vikings’ 11th straight title.

Cape wrapped up a dominating undefeated campaign with their second win over the Auks this season. They got off to a good start by scoring on their first two possessions, a goal each for Emily Monigle and Chloe Schaeffer. Both came after Archmere violations and spotlighted the Vikings’ speed among their attackers.

The Auks, meanwhile, got some penetration in the opening minutes, but they were unable to put the ball on Cape goalkeeper Laci Dixon. Meghan Reilly earned an 8-meter opportunity with about 18 minutes remaining, but Dixon responded with a kick save. Alexandra Wilson picked up the loose ball and turned defense into offense. She passed to Lola Messick, who found Sawyer Walker cutting in front of Auks’ keeper Maura Smeader, and Walker went with the bouncer into the net with 17:13 to go to make it 3-0.

Cape Henopen’s Alia Marshall, who scored five times, runs the ball upfield alongside Archmere’s Lauren Ross. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

The Vikings added three more before the Auks were able to respond. Reilly was fouled in the circle in front of Dixon, earning another 8-meter shot. This time, she went through Dixon’s legs, and the score was 6-1.

Cape made the Auks work to find holes in the defense in front of Dixon, but Kate Olsen did just that with 3:33 left, spinning free and whipping a shot to the left post. After Meredith Lockwood answered for the Vikings 30 seconds later to extend the lead to 7-2, the first half ended at a much slower pace than the first 23 minutes had been played.

The last five goals of the half – three for the Vikings and two for the Auks – came on 8-meter opportunities in a span of 2:06, including three within 23 seconds. The final tally, scored by Schaeffer, put Cape ahead, 11-4, with just 4.9 seconds left on the clock.

Picking up where they left off, Cape struck first in the second half with 23:15 to go. After a missed 8-meter shot, the Vikings retained possession and found Alia Marshall, who sent a change-up high over Smeader. The keeper came up big a minute later, stuffing a Messick attempt while the Auks were a player down.

The Auks continued to battle the tight Vikings defense, and some unfortunate luck, as an 8-meter shot hit the post next to Dixon. Caroline Donovan, one of the Auks’ 10 seniors, picked up her first goal with 17:53 to go on a pinpoint shot to cut it to 12-5. Cape would score the next two goals, including one on a nice feed from Marshall to Schaeffer. Reilly then tallied twice, one on a spin move, the other a bouncer with 12:36 remaining. Marshall and Donovan would trade goals to end the scoring.

Donovan said the Auks knew how strong the Vikings were, especially since the teams met on April 13. But finals experience also helps.

“Obviously, everybody on their team is strong. They have three lines of middies, and we’re competing with one. But more than that, they’ve been in the state championship. This is their 11th year in a row, and this is our first time here. Our girls had a lot of nerves coming into the game. You can’t blame them for that. But now that we’ve been here, we know what it takes, and they had a great game. They earned it, Donovan said.

For the Vikings, Schaeffer and Marshall each scored five times, while Monigle had three. Walker and Lockwood had a goal apiece. The Vikings outshot the Auks, 26-14. Dixon finished with five saves, and Destiny Kusen, who came in for the final minutes, had one. Cape finished its season at a perfect 18-0.

The Auks were led by Reilly with four goals. Olsen and Donovan each added a pair. Smeader was busy in net, stopping 11 shots. The Auks closed out the campaign at 15-3.