Cape hockey beats Padua 2-0 for Division I state title

Vikings didn't allow a goal in the state tournament
November 17, 2019

A pair of Cape 10th-graders scored in the final 12:51 of the DIAA Division I State Championship game versus Padua Nov. 16, propelling the Vikings to the school’s 10th state championship in the last 50 years. 

The young and strong Cape team was running against the wind the entire second half, and finally Noelle Sabbagh cracked the code for a 1-0 Cape lead with 12:51 left in the game. Sabbagh was a gnat the entire game, as the Pandas had marked up leading scorer Cami Smith, employing the “anybody but No. 20” defensive approach. 

“We fought through games the entire season,” said coach Kate Austin after winning her seventh state championship in the last eight years. “So many times after games and in practice I told the team, ‘If you want to win a state championship, these are the things you need to do for an entire game.’ In the end, what they did was find a way.” 

Sam Connors later inserted a corner then camped near the post and received a crossing pass from Reagan Ciabattoni. She reached back to settle, then sent a shot to the far post for an insurance goal with 1:38 left to play. Cape coaches were saying out loud, “Exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale.” 

Sabbagh scored the first goal against Padua in the 2018 state championship game, but it came at 3:40 into a game that ended 5-0 in favor of Cape. The Vikings have beaten the Pandas four times in the last two years, all the wins coming by shutout. 

Cape completed the 2019 season with a record of 18-2 with 15 wins coming by shutout. The Vikings did not allow a goal in the state tournament. Goalies Julie Heffernan and Marlee Geppert split time for most of the season, with a defensive backline of Haley Craig, Emma Duffield, Ella Rishko and Anna Stancofski.  

Saturday’s game was a “slog in the bog.” The Vikings were just a little off for most of the game until the final 13 minutes. The biggest smile in the stadium was on the face of bus driver Fred Harvey, who has now delivered the state championship trophy for field hockey and girls’ lacrosse a total of 19 times since 2011. Cape has never lost a final with “Mr. Harvey” as the bus driver. 

Notes: Cape’s seniors graduated with three straight state championships. Leading scorer Cami Smith cried and she reflected on the past, much as she cried her freshman year after Cape lost in the quarterfinals at Tower Hill after winning 100 straight games against Delaware opponents. “I never wanted to feel like that again,” Smith said earlier this season.