WILMINGTON — Padua’s field hockey team spent more than half of its game on Dec. 3 trying to match Polytech’s single goal, and with just under 12 minutes left, the Pandas finally equalized. But the Panthers answered quickly, and they went back to Kent County with a 2-1 win in the quarterfinal round of the DIAA Division I state tournament at Abessinio Stadium.
Padua, the second seed, was playing for the first time since Nov. 17, having just come off quarantine the day before the tournament matchup with the No. 7 Panthers. Polytech controlled the action throughout the half, earning four penalty corners in the first quarter and capitalizing on the last one.
Senior Claire Fuchs took Megan Popp’s inbounds pass near the top of the scoring circle, took a step forward and blasted a shot past Pandas goalkeeper Cara Quinlan, who appeared to be screened and never saw the shot. Padua had a few chances in the second quarter, but one shot was deflected over the net, while another was blocked by a Panthers defender.
A different Padua team took to the turf after halftime. The Pandas were more aggressive, generating five penalty corners, and they played the Panthers more evenly. Polytech keeper Reagan Thomas smothered one shot out of a corner, and another hit the side of the cage. A few minutes into the final quarter, their fortune would change.
The Pandas picked up another corner two minutes into the fourth, and while they didn’t score, they kept the ball in the offensive end. Anna Getty was fouled in the scoring circle, and with 11:56 left on the clock, she sent a penalty stroke high into the net to tie the score.
That seemed to energize the Panthers. They took the action to Padua, and it took just 96 seconds before Popp untied the game. She found the ball after a lot of activity in front of Quinlan and poked it into the cage. Mairead McKibbin got the assist.
Thomas was called on to make a save with two minutes left, and a backhanded shot in the closing seconds bounced harmlessly off the side of the goal once the ball had gone out of bounds.
Thomas was credited with four saves. Other statistics were not available late Thursday night. Polytech improved to 7-6 and will play sixth-seeded Sussex Tech in one semifinal on Dec. 8.
Quilnan had two saves for the Pandas. Padua finished the season 8-3.
All photos by Jason Winchell.