Cape versus Caesar Rodney in boys' lacrosse is a young rivalry going back only 20 years with an emotional history along a road littered with broken hearts and busted spirits.
Last season, the Riders won at Cape, then danced all over Legends Stadium for 10 minutes. In modern parlance, “It was what it was,” which translates to, “What was that?”
On May 7 at Caesar Rodney ,Cape came back from a 4-1 early deficit and ran five unanswered goals, going from down 6-4 to a 9-6 lead at halftime.
A 5-2 third-quarter advantage propelled Cape to a hard-earned 17-10 victory and the team's ninth win in a row.
After a post-victory party pile of players, coach Jack Lingo knew just what to say to his team, ”Get on the bus; we will talk later. I don’t want to stay on this field one minute longer than I have to.”
And that is the good stuff of rivalries, what makes victories satisfying and losses inconsolable.
“We started slow and weren’t intense, and I have no idea why," Lingo said after the game. “Once we started helping on defense and upping the speed of our play, we got back into it. “Grant [Gillan, goalie] had no chance on some of those early shots. Good middies with hands free cranking 100-mile-an-hour shots on him doesn’t give him much of a chance. But he started to see the ball better as the game went on.”
Thomas Aloe of the Riders had three first-period goals, and Hunter Schaffer added another.
Cape started its scoring on a goal by Michael Hopkins, who had five on the night to lead all scorers. Hopkins had a chance last season to win the CR game but got stoned on the doorstep at the end of regulation.
Hopkins' score, two goals by Todd Keen and one by Blake Mann made the score 5-4 Riders at the quarter.
“I’d say we picked up the speed of our play and had the confidence to look for each other," said offensive coach Mark D'Ambrogi after the game. “Look at Luke Benson with two goals and five assists, that’s seven points. “
The Riders stayed aggressive on ground balls and actually outshot Cape 43-31. Gillan came up with 14 big saves while Tyler Gross, a freshman, had 7 saves for the Riders.
Hopkins, a lefty with a sneaky right-hand shot as well, had a big third-quarter interception of a clear and stick-back in the Cape goal for a 12-7 Cape lead with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
Big leads had been blown by both teams in the history of the rivalry, but Cape did not fall back and emerged with the 17-10 victory.
Cape will play a Henlopen Conference Championship game at Legends Stadium Friday, May 16, hosting Delmar.
Cape will host Tower Hill at 7 p.m., Friday, May 9, then play Salesianum at Baynard Stadium at 5:30 p.m., Monday, May 12.
The Hillers are 10-2 on the season. Salesianum is 9-1, playing a mostly out-of- state schedule.
Cape goals were scored by Hopkins 5, Mann 3, Benson 2, Keen 2, Orton 2, Monigle 1, Lopez 1, and Lally 1.
Assists were Benson 5, Mann 1, Keen 1, and Lopez 1.
Caesar Rodney goals came from Schaffer 3, Aloe 3, Haywood 2, and Schmidt 2.
Assist were Hayward 2, Aloe 1, and Brown 1.