BEAR — In a girls soccer game pitting No. 1 vs. No. 1, it’s only fitting that the total number of goals on the evening was one. Haley Dougherty scored on a free kick in the second minute, lifting Padua — tops in Division I — past a determined Caravel — the Division II leader — on May 5 at Bob Peoples Stadium.
A foul on Caravel gave the Pandas a free kick very early from 25 yards out. Dougherty passed to a cutting teammate, but the referee’s whistle blew the play dead immediately because Dougherty had jumped the gun a bit. When the referee signaled that he was ready, Dougherty instead went with a direct kick, chipping the ball over the Bucs’ wall, just under the crossbar and out of the reach of Caravel goalkeeper Riley Pinato.
After that, the Buccaneers took control, keeping the ball in their offensive zone almost throughout the rest of the first half. The first Bucs corner kick led to a shot that was stopped by Pandas goalkeeper Claire Campbell. In the 17th minute, Skylar Salvo got the ball after a steal and sent her offering just over the soccer crossbar and under the football crossbar.
The Buccaneers would add three more corners before the half ended, but they could not capitalize. A free kick in the 28th minute from just outside the 18-yard box was deflected by a Padua defender and sailed wide over the end line. In the 34th minute, the Bucs intercepted a Pandas throw-in. Maci Hood sent the ball to Lauren Hayden, whose shot hit the underside of the crossbar, then fell to a waiting Campbell.
The second half opened with a strange play. Dougherty sent a long shot toward Pinato, and the ball bounced a few feet in front of the keeper. It bounced high off the turf, forcing Pinato to jump to keep it out of the net.
Campbell was kept busy as well. She made a save in the 42nd, and she smothered a Bucs header off a corner kick in the 54th. Hood took a cross from Reese Muchinski two minutes later, but her shot was just wide left.
Campbell saved her best work for the end of the game. Nicole Rankin had a 27-yard free kick from Campbell’s right in the 77th minute. Rankin’s shot skipped by the keeper, ringing off the left post. It bounced right to Hood, whose left-footed shot was somehow stopped by Campbell’s flailing left arm.
A final corner kick was Caravel’s last chance to tie the score. The ball bounced around a crowded 18-yard box for a few seconds before the Pandas cleared it, and the referee signaled the end of the game just after that.
Caravel had a 6-3 edge in shots, and the Bucs had eight corner kicks to none for Padua. Campbell had six saves for the Pandas, who improved to 8-2. They host Middletown in a Division I showdown on Monday at Hockessin Soccer Club at 3:30 p.m.
Pinato had two saves for the Bucs. Caravel (10-1) begins a three-match road trip to end the regular season on Monday night at Dover at 7.
Photos by Nick Halliday and Mike Lang.