Cape's golden era of girls' sports: knocking down state titles

December 28, 2012
Shanel Dickens, left, and Ali Coning pose with the 2012 track and field state championship plaque. The fast friends covered everything from the 400 through the 3,200 in helping Cape to consecutive state championship victories. BY DAN COOK

Set them up, and then step it up. Knock them over, and keep on moving. The girls of Cape Henlopen have been enjoying a golden era of sports beginning in spring 2009 and running to the present with eight state championships won and more in focus as bogeys on the radar screen.

There have been two consecutive titles in Division I girls' track and field, back-to-back in field hockey and four in a row in lacrosse. There is a bevy of frontline athletes who have won multiple state championships in their high school careers, some as many as five.

Scholastic sports can be looked back on as a school year or a calendar year. Either way, it's bracketed; Cape has state titles in track, field hockey and lacrosse, and 2012 marked repeats for all three programs.

The track girls of coaches George Pepper and Rob Perciful came from behind to beat Delcastle 98-93 with Charter School at 85 and Caesar Rodney at 80 rounding out the top four.

Ali Coning and Shanel Dickens were big point producers in the meet. Coning is now a freshman at Towson while Dickens is on the University of Delaware track team.

The 4-by-100-meter relay team of Anshe Boyer, Kadijah Doughty, Tyra Weatherly and Ahkeesha Duffy ran 48.2, a school record, to contribute 10 first-place points late in the meet. All but Duffy return for next season.

Kadijah Doughty is defending state champion in the shot put and will challenge in the discus while sophomore Melissa Aucoin keeps Cape solid in the pole vault.

Cape will miss Coning, Dickens and Duffy, but this indoor season, the Cape girls have won two Worcester County indoor meets that feature 20 teams by spreading out and competing in every event. They figure to be in the mix this spring.

The girls' lacrosse team won its fourth consecutive state championship, rolling through the state's most difficult schedule with a perfect 18-0 record. Cape had huge comeback home wins during the regular season, beating established powerhouse programs Episcopal 12-11 and Severn School 16-15. Both those squads rode the coach bus home, vowing never to return.

The Vikings beat Middletown 17-6, Tower Hill 14-7 and St. Andrew's 17-10 in the state tournament.

Cape has won 52 straight games against in-state opponents; the last loss was 13-12 to St. Andrew's on May 2, 2009. The Vikings recovered to beat the Saints in the final that year 11-7.

The four-year championship run of coach P.J. Kesmodel includes a record of 68-4-1 and two undefeated teams.

Cape has been uniquely constructed each season with an array of firepower such that, when seniors graduate, the Vikings always have more goals returning than they lost.

Gone are Jacki Coveleski and Erin Ricker, accounting for close to 100 goals in 2012. Returning are Anna Frederick, Sara Young and Ali Yeager, who combined for more than 150. And there is Kat Judge back, the most complete midfielder on the team and maybe in the state.

Defenders Kelly Smith, Teenie Bristowe, Lexi Heuring and Jenna Steele all graduated.

Cape had an undefeated JV team, so there is an abundance of talent ready to compete for roster spots.

Maggie Delp returns as a goalie, but because of her quickness and fitness displayed in field hockey, she will leave the cage to run around on defense, and fearless and adventurous sophomore Sam Broadhurst, a potential star, will step in.

The field hockey team under first-year coach Kate Windett captured the title with a 2-1 final game victory over Delmar that completed an 18-1 season in what was considered a “rebuilding year“ as the Vikings returned only three starters from the 2011 undefeated team of coach Nicole Hughes. The lone loss for Cape was a 1-0 setback at Severna Park, the goal coming with just 13 seconds remaining on a controversial high-stick shot.

Cape’s 2-1 wins over Caravel and Delmar in the state tournament were as close as anyone came to being in the same area code as the Vikings.

Cape got the job done by employing and deploying great athletes at every position on the field and running the entire game long, wearing other teams out.

The midfield of Kay Judge, Sara Young, Izzie Delario and Maggie Delp was relentless. A front line of Allie Yeager, Cam Bernheimer and Anna Frederick provided constant pressure inside the circle, and a defense bolstered by Tiara Duffy in the middle with Alex Coverdale and Karissa Lemaire on the wings protected goalie Katie Kolobielski, who only allowed 4 goals in the regular season.

Tess Bernheimer, Amanda Atkinson, Sam Broadhurst and Emily Baptiste made major prime-time contributions, and defender Sydney Smyk provided major help when pressed into action.

Cape returns seven starters for the 2013 season, along with loads of talent from a powerhouse junior varsity team that dominated Delaware competition.