Smyrna hockey beats Cape 2-1 under the lights at Champions Stadium

Electric crowd was snapping like heat lightning
September 15, 2023

Few field hockey players across all the college divisions and age-group national teams get to play in a game under the lights with as much focused fan frenzy and full-tilt action as Smyrna’s 2-1 win over Cape at Champions Stadium Sept. 14. 

Cape assistant coach Jenna Burkhart was tasked with the halftime mission of asking the student fence hangers at the Smyrna defensive end of the field to back it down or Cape would be assessed a yellow card. Field hockey culture, including the officials, don’t play that mess because, unlike Friday night football where all partisan noise gets spun inside the same blender, fan commentaries in field hockey have a personal tone.

But all atmospherics aside, the players were all about it, going full tilt from the opening ball drop. The Eagles scored off a corner at just 1:05 into the game as Bree Moffett found Ava Pierce to Cape goalie Morgan Newcomb’s right. Pierce chipped it far post for a score and a 1-0 Smyrna lead. 

Cape pressured Smyrna in the first half with just a 6-4 advantage in penalty corners, but the Vikings couldn’t solve the riddle of locked-in senior goalie Halle Geiger.

“I talk to my defense out there, moving them, making sure I have a clear vision of the ball,” Geiger said. “I don’t usually see that many shots in a game except for Cape and Delmar.”

Cape’s Devon DeGregory got behind Geiger after inserting on a third-quarter corner. Grace Wiggins found her, and she scored to tie the game at 1-1 with 10:42 left in the third quarter. 

“We were playing great in the second half,” said Cape forward Addy Basile.

Wiggins agreed, “We feel good, just game four, a long season ahead. It was just a great atmosphere for the game.”

Defender Lina Frederick had a big third-quarter save behind Newcomb to keep the game tied at 1-1. 

The fourth quarter was mostly Cape pressing Geiger, but a Smyrna counterassault resulted in a penalty stroke after a shot hit a Cape player’s leg when she was behind the goalie. No kick saves allowed in field hockey.   

Dru Moffett buried the shot to Newcomb’s right for what proved to be the game winner in a 2-1 Smyrna victory. 

At the final buzzer, Smyrna defenders – a couple of them at the Cape end of the field – turned to the Cape crowd and did the hand cup behind the ear, the universal sign language for, "I can't hear you!” A Cape guy responded loudly, “Oh, nice sportsmanship!” The irony of the agony and ecstasy of a Thursday night field hockey game at Champions Stadium as Cape celebrates 55 years of playing the sport.

Cape outshot Smyrna 19-8 with a 14-6 advantage in penalty corners. 

Geiger had 14 saves, while Newcomb was credited with three. 

Corner cupboards – Smyrna will host 3-0 Caesar Rodney Tuesday, Sept. 19, then host unbeaten Delmar Tuesday, Sept. 26. Cape plays at 3-0 Polytech at 4 p.m., Sept. 19. Milford improved to 3-0 with an 8-0 win over Sussex Tech. Cape will host a middle school play day Saturday, Sept. 16.


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