Home Local Sports Maddie Schepers’ hat trick propels Saint Mark’s into return trip to DIAA...

Maddie Schepers’ hat trick propels Saint Mark’s into return trip to DIAA Division II girls soccer final: Photo gallery

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Emma Manley rushes toward Maddie Schepers after the latter scored the first goal of the game for the Spartans. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

CLAYMONT — Archmere had cut the Saint Mark’s lead to 2-1 in their DIAA girls Division II semifinal matchup June 1 in Claymont with 27 minutes to go. But any momentum the second-seeded Auks had gained disappeared in an instant.

After Alexis Kohl’s goal in the 53rd minute brought joy to the Auks, No. 3 Saint Mark’s rushed the ball back the other way, and barely a minute after giving up a goal, the Spartans’ Maddie Schepers sent a laser off her left foot from about 25 yards into the left side of the net to restore a two-goal lead. That held up as the Spartans went on to a 4-1 win to advance to the state championship game for the second year in a row.

Saint Mark’s will meet top-seeded Caravel, who defeated Newark Charter in overtime to advance. The final is Friday at 5 p.m. at Delaware State University. The Buccaneers and Spartans met last year for the title, with Caravel taking a 3-2 decision.

At Archmere, the Spartans stuck to what has been successful for them all season. They were aggressive on offense, firing passes upfield all game looking for the loose attacker. It didn’t take long for the strategy to pay dividends.

They had two corner kicks in the first 11 minutes, plus a free kick from Lily Phillips that went through the box in front of the Auks’ net. In the 20th minute, they broke through. Schepers took a long through ball, worked her way around a defender and sent a shot to the far left side past Archmere goalkeeper Gabby Fernandez.

The Auks’ Sophia Tobin forced Spartans keeper Marissa Cirillo to make a save on a free kick in the 27th, and an Archmere corner kick flew into the side of the net six minutes later. Most of the chances, however, belonged to Saint Mark’s. Fernandez kept the Spartans’ lead at a single goal in the 34th, stoning Emma Manley from 10 yards out, but a corner kick paid off a few minutes before the half. The Spartans’ inbounds pass bounced around the box in front of the net, and an attempted clearing pass hit off an Auks player and back over the line for a goal.

After a diving save for Fernandez early in the second half, the Auks went on the offensive. They had three corner kicks in succession, and on the final one, Kohl corralled a loose ball and sent it high into the upper left corner.

Archmere’s joy was short-lived, however, as Schepers struck quickly. That was it for the scoring until the 75th minute, when Schepers lined up a 32-yard free kick from left of the net. She lofted the ball over the Auks’ wall, just out of the reach of Fernandez and under the crossbar for her third goal of the afternoon, sealing the Spartans’ return trip to the title game.

Final statistics were not available late Wednesday night. Saint Mark’s improved to 15-2. Archmere finished the season 13-3-1.

In Division I, the third seed and defending state champion, Padua, will meet No. 1 Middletown for the state championship. That game will follow the Division II game at Del State and is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. start.

Tickets are $10 and must be purchased online at gofan.co/app/school/DIAA. A single ticket is good for both games.

All photos by Mike Lang.