Home Local Sports Padua battles top-seeded Cape Henlopen before falling in field hockey semifinal

Padua battles top-seeded Cape Henlopen before falling in field hockey semifinal

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Shannon Salerni (left) and Kelsey Clauss (3) celebrate Salerni's first-quarter goal against Cape Henlopen in the DIAA Division I field hockey semifinal. Screen shot via NFHS Network

NEWARK – Padua scored the first goal against Cape Henlopen in the first semifinal of the DIAA Division I field hockey state tournament Nov. 15 at Rullo Stadium, but it didn’t take long for the Vikings to show why they are the top seed and the five-time defending state champions. Cape scored four goals in the second quarter and went on to a 5-1 victory, earning another berth to the state final.

The Pandas, who were the fourth seed in the tourney, came in as heavy underdogs, but they didn’t play that way. They earned the game’s first penalty corner three and a half minutes into the contest, and they capitalized. The inbounds pass went to the top of the circle, and Ava Getty saw Shannon Salerni all alone at the front left corner of the cage. Her pass was perfect, and Salerni redirected the ball into the net with 10:52 on the clock.

Cape owned possession most of the quarter and picked up two corners as the first period progressed, but they were unable to crack the Padua defense. Once the second quarter started, however, the tenor of the game changed.

The Vikings were back at the penalty corner a minute and a half into the second, and this time, they tied the game. Padua made a defensive stop, but Alexis Truitt corralled the rebound and poked it it to tie it up with 13:10 to go.

A minute later, the Vikings had another corner, and Hannah Maney scored with an assist to Truitt to give them the lead. Maney’s shot deflected off a Pandas defender into the net. They added another midway through the third, when Alexi Nowakowski converted a Grace Wiggins steal at midfield with a backhanded shot at the 7:46 mark.

Offensively, the Pandas were stymied over and over by the Vikings’ defense. Most of the quarter was spent in Cape’s offensive zone, and when Padua was able to get the ball downfield, they were quickly sent the other way by the Vikings’ defensive corps. Padua was able to stop the Vikings on several penalty corner opportunities, keeping the score close.

The Vikings added a final goal in the second in the last minute. Nowakowski sent a shot through the legs of a defender into the cage. There were 46 seconds left in the half.

Cape Henlopen added a final goal in the middle of the third quarter. Maney scored on a deflected shot after Kozink made an initial save. Kozink kept the score that close with a bunch of big saves on the wet, raw early evening.

Cape had a 16-1 advantage in shots and 10-1 in penalty corners. The Vikings (17-2) will meet No. 2 Smyrna on Saturday at noon at Rullo Stadium on the University of Delaware campus for the Division I state championship.

Kozink had 11 saves for the Pandas. Padua, who defeated Caesar Rodney in the quarterfinals, finished 9-8.