SMYRNA — The top-seeded Archmere soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar position on Nov. 13, trailing No. 4 Newark, 1-0, at the half in their DIAA Division II semifinal match. But Gavin Fanning scored off an assist from Andrew Rosenbaum in the 76th minute to send the Auks to the state championship game on Saturday.
The Auks will meet the second seed, Wilmington Friends, at 5 p.m. at Dover High School.
Archmere controlled play most of the first half and earned three corner kicks in the first minute but could not convert. The Auks had a few more quality chances in the first 10 minutes, but Yellow Jackets goalkeeper Jeff Cerrato-Bonilla turned them away.
The Jackets did have one rush off a counter-attack and struck first in the 24th minute. Maddyan Ata scored on a mini-breakaway, just staying onside in the process. Archmere’s attempts to equalize in the first half were just off target.
In the second half, the Auks continued their quest to tie the score. Their first good chance came on a 30-yard free kick, but Rosenbaum’s shot was blocked by the Yellow Jackets’ wall. In the 60th minute, a header by Fanning off a corner kick went just wide. They finally struck in the 65th, when Riley McAvinue connected with a loose ball off another corner off the far post and into the back of the net.
That seemed to give Archmere a boost, as they had a few more chances before the winner.
The Auks outshot Newark, 12-5, and had 11 corner kicks to the Jackets’ three. Archmere (16-1) faces the Quakers (15-0-2) in a rematch of their semifinal match from last season, a 2-1 overtime win for Friends. It will be the Auks’ first championship appearance in soccer.
Newark finished with a record of 13-4.