The Delmar field hockey team defeated Cape 2-1 in the very first Henlopen Conference Championship, held Nov. 2 at Sussex Academy.
The Vikings gave the Wildcats all they could handle as the state’s two best teams in recent history battled the entire game.
Maci Bradford put the Wildcats on top with a blast past the Vikings’ defense less than three minutes into the championship game.
Anna Stancofski answered with a deflection off a Cami Smith blast from the top of the circle to tie the game with 2:47 left in the first half.
The game stayed deadlocked until Delmar freshman Josie Hollamon took a pass off a corner and put a shot past Cape goalie Julie Heffernan with just 36 seconds left on the clock.
Cape held an 8-7 advantage in penalty corners, but Delmar outshot the Vikings 8-6. Heffernan made six stops for the Vikings, while Wildcats keeper Katie Davis made five saves.
“We just went into the game with nothing to lose,” said Cape coach Kate Austin. “We have been fine-tuning some things before the state tournament, because one mistake and your season ends. We didn’t have anyone that didn’t play well in the game.”
“We were definitely more aggressive all around the field today than the last time we played them,” Smith said. “Each player stepped it up, and it was one of our best games of the season. We had some injured players in our September loss to them. They were back today and that helped us. We possessed for most of the game, but in the end, the scoreboard just didn’t show it. I believe we needed a tight game like this for the tournament. It showed us that we have to stay 100 percent in the game at all times. This game will definitely help us because we were composed but aggressive. After the game, it lit a fire in all of us for the upcoming tournament. This team has stepped up tremendously this season.”
“Both teams put a lot of heart and effort into this game,” said sophomore Sam Connors. “We went into the game thinking we had nothing to lose. If we would’ve won, that would’ve been amazing, but if we lost, then we knew we could still compete to win the state championship. All season long, we have not been up to full strength because so many of our starters were hurt. Now with mostly everyone back, and after we had a strong, solid week of practice, we felt more confident.”
“Our play was more connected today,” said senior Abby Kane. “We had strong passes and knew where our teammates were on the field. This will prepare us mentally for how any game could go and gives us incentive to keep giving 110 percent until the final whistle. It also put us under pressure that we could face in the tournament, and it helped us prepare for situations that we can work through together. It was an amazing game.”
”This game will definitely help us send a message to other teams that we are able to play at a high level and that we’re a threat,” said Cape sophomore Noelle Sabbagh. “Because it was such a tight game, it gave us a boost of confidence that we are able to play at the same level with them, and that the way we played is the expected in tournament season. This Cape team has been through so many ups and downs, and yet we continue to prove ourselves.”
The top-seeded Vikings (14-2) play No. 8 Wilmington Charter (10-4-1) Thursday, Nov. 7, at Cape in the Division I tournament. In Division II action, top-seeded Delmar (16-0) will face the winner of Wilmington Friends (10-5) and Caravel (9-6) at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 9, at Sussex Academy in Georgetown.