Padua is the top seed in the Division I girls soccer state tournament, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association announced Wednesday night. The Pandas are looking to return to the top after dropping a 1-0 decision to Middletown last year; before that, they had won the previous five titles.
The Pandas open tournament play against the eighth seed, Cape Hemlopen, May 23 at 6 p.m. at Dover High School. The teams did not play each other during the regular season. The winner meets the winner of Middletown-Appoquinimink.
Padua finished the regular season with a 14-1 record. That includes wins over fellow tournament teams Caesar Rodney, Appo and Charter School of Wilmington. The only team to beat the Pandas was Chantilly High School of Virginia, who took a 1-0 win in April.
The Pandas averaged more than five goals per game and allowed just five overall during the regular season. They are a veteran bunch led by scorers Ashleee Brentlinger, Kristi Cox, Paige Kenton and Brianna Niggebrugge, but freshmen such as Sophia Marini, Brieana Hallo and Julianna DelliCompagni have also made an impact. Senior Katie Szczerba has been a wall in goal.
Archmere and Ursuline both earned spots in the 12-team Division II field. The Auks grabbed the fifth seed, while the Raders are ninth. Archmere will meet No. 12 Wilmington Friends on Saturday at Caravel Academy at noon, while Ursuline will travel to the DE Turf complex for a 2 p.m. tip against Delmar, the eighth seed.
Archmere went 10-5 during the regular season and enters having dropped four of its past five. All of those losses came against playoff teams, two each from Division I and Division II. The Auks played a quality schedule, as seven of their opponents are playing in the postseason. One of those was Friends, who traveled to Claymont on April 25. The Auks scored two first-half goals and held on for a 2-1 win.
Leading the way on offense for the Auks are Dara Dawson, Anna Garcia, Karena Wursthorn and Maddie Law, while the Witherells – Nicole and Gabrielle – have shared goalkeeping duties throughout much of the second half of the season. Should the Auks advance, they will meet No. 4 Sanford. The Auks snuck by the Warriors, 1-0, earlier this year.
Ursuline fought to a 7-7-1 record after beginning the season 1-5-1. Their slate included tournament teams Middletown, Appoquinimink, Sanford, Mount Pleasant, Caravel, Padua, Archmere and Tower Hill. They did not play Delmar, their opening-round foe.
The key scorers include Jenna LaPira, Allie Olmstead, Jessica Falasco and Gabriella Kendus. Alexandra Popham handled most of the goalkeeping duties. If the Raiders win against Delmar, top seed Tower Hill awaits. The Raiders and Hillers met in the regular-season finale on Tuesday, a 5-2 Hillers win.
Tickets to first-round games are $5 and are available at the gate.