MILLTOWN — It took a few days longer than anticipated, but the Saint Mark’s girls soccer team came up with the desired result — a berth in the DIAA Division II championship game on Tuesday in Dover. The Spartans, seeded second in the 12-team field, scored twice in four minutes in a 2-0 shutout of No. 3 Archmere in semifinal-round action on May 28.
The Spartans will battle defending Division II champ Caravel, the top seed. Saint Mark’s is after its first title since 2008, when there was just one division.
The Auks and Spartans played approximately 24 minutes on May 26 before thunder and lightning caused a two-day delay and a replaying of the game from its outset. The Spartans had an early shot hit the underside of the crossbar, but for the most part, the opening 20 minutes belonged to Archmere.
The Auks got a shot past Spartans goalkeeper Marissa Cirillo in the sixth minute, but a defender was there to clear the shot. An Auks corner kick went nowhere, and Cirillo got her hands on another shot. A would-be goal was erased in the 18th minute after an Auks player was whistled for being offside.
After the break following the first 20 minutes, the Spartans turned the tide. Maddie Schepers sent a 25-yard free kick over the net in the 24th, and a minutes later Auks keeper Abby Jones won a race to the ball to end a Spartans opportunity.
The Auks picked up a corner kick, but the Spartans would be the first to strike in the 27th. Schepers took control of the ball around 27 yards from the net. She dribbled away from a few Archmere defenders, turned and sent a low liner into the right corner to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Schepers played a role in the second goal as well. That came in the 30th minute off a corner kick. Schepers inbounded the ball into the penalty box, and Alyssa Ruggeri was there to head the ball into the net to double the advantage.
The game, played in an occasional rain the quite physical, swung back in the Auks’ favor after halftime. Anna Garcia had a free kick from about 30 yards out in the 42nd minute, and Cirillo was there to make the save on the direct strike. Archmere’s best chance happened in the 46th. An initial shot rang off the post and bounced to the front of the net. There, another Auk got a swing at the ball, but Cirillo was there to stop the hard shot.
Before the third 20-minute segment ended, the Auks would earn four more corner kicks, along with a free kick from a sharp angle. None were successful. Most of the play in the final 20 minutes took place in the middle of the field, and the Auks could not get much set up in their offensive zone.
Final statistics were not available late Friday night. The Spartans (17-0) will battle Caravel at Dover High School on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
The Auks finished the season 11-3.
All photos by Mike Lang.