Home Local Sports Padua holds off Smyrna, advances to field hockey semifinal

Padua holds off Smyrna, advances to field hockey semifinal

Shannon McCormac of Padua makes one of her saves during the Pandas' game against Smyrna. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

WILMINGTON — Two first-half goals proved to be enough for Padua in a DIAA Division I field hockey tournament game Nov. 7 against Smyrna, and the second-seeded Pandas are advancing to the semifinals after a 3-1 win. The game, played on a gray, damp afternoon, took place on the turf at Delaware Military Academy.

The Eagles, seeded seventh, controlled play for most of the first 30 minutes, earning a penalty corner in the first minute. Padua, as it would time after time, escaped damage, and they took an early lead on their first corner opportunity. Angela Taglione picked up the rebound of a shot and tucked it into the near-side corner with 25:20 remaining in the half.

Reagan Widmaier (center) celebrates with teammates after staking Padua to a 2-0 lead over Smyrna in a Division I field hockey quarterfinal on Thursday. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Smyrna sent ball after ball into the offensive zone, but the Pandas’ defense was tight, limiting the number of shots goalkeeper Shannon McCormac saw. The keeper was called on to make a nice save midway through the half when an Eagles attacker deked around a defender and got a clear look. At the other end, Eagles keeper Brynn Rifino stopped a few attempts from Padua.

The Eagles earned three penalty corners in quick succession beginning at the 12-minute mark, but they could not get one past McCormac. Alexis Moore was stoned on the first, and McCormac made another save on the second. A shot off the third corner was deflected high and wide of the net.

The Pandas took advantage of a rare offensive opportunity to double their lead with 6:59 to go in the half. Reagan Widmaier corralled a loose ball after a flurry of activity in front of Rifino and went through the keeper’s legs.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to answer. They set up on another penalty corner with just about five minutes to go in the first, and a pass into the circle was swept into the cage by Madison Simpson.

Padua added an insurance goal in the second half for the final margin.

Final statistics were not available. Padua improved to 13-3 and will meet No. 6 Dover on Tuesday at Rullo Stadium at the University of Delaware at a time to be announced. This appears to be the first-ever meeting between the two programs. The Senators outlasted the third seed, Concord, in two overtimes on Thursday. The Pandas are the only semifinalist not from the Henlopen North Conference.

Smyrna finished the season 9-6-1.