Sussex Academy soccer wins Henlopen Conference title

Seahawks earn No. 1 seed in Division II tournament
November 6, 2023

The Sussex Academy soccer squad won the school’s first Henlopen Conference Championship Nov. 4 over a tough Sussex Central team, but it took 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute OT periods before both teams had to finally settle the victory on penalty kicks.

“Going into this game, [there were] a lot of nerves on our side,” said Sussex Academy coach RJ Dina. “It was the first time in this environment, at home and having already beaten Central before [2-0 Sept. 12]. The pressure to have a repeat performance was there. I think the boys let the nerves and pressure get the best of them through the first 40. Kudos to Central for how they performed – organized, disciplined and coached well.”

The Golden Knights struck first on a defensive mistake that turned over the ball in front of the home goal. Central’s Yonny Mazariegos took advantage and put the ball in the corner for the 1-0 lead at the 37-minute mark. The Knights went into the halftime break up 1-0.

The Seahawks tied the game up with a shot by Esteban Lara Nieto from Andres Romero-Nieto at 58 minutes.

“We kept it simple at halftime,” Dina said. “We discussed the moment they were in, to play for the program and the people that support them day in and day out. Nothing tactical, just heart. I think it certainly helped ease the nerves. Down 1-0 with nothing to lose at that point. All the pressure was on Central to keep the lead. I’m proud of this group. Resiliency has been a theme for us all year long. They showcased character and their abilities to dominate through the rest of the game into overtime.”

The game went into two 10-minute overtime periods. Each team had numerous scoring opportunities, with goalies CJ Norton and Justin Glasco making game-saving stops.

Sussex Academy’s Norton made four stops in the game, while Glasco stopped 10 scoring attempts for Central.

Norton made two stops in the penalty kicks to secure the victory for the Seahawks.

“Going into PKs, honestly, with a kid like CJ, how can you not be confident?” Dina said. “This is the best goalie in the state, and I’ll die on that hill. We were confident that if and when we got to PKs, he was going to carry us home.”

“I was really confident going into PKs,” said Norton. “I thought [Central] would be gassed. I had good decisions on their shots and made the right moves.”

“We’re thrilled with the outcome, obviously,” Dina said. “But we have much greater aspirations ahead, and that is all we are focused on.”

Sussex Academy earned the No. 1 seed in the Division II tournament. The Seahawks will play the winner of Tower Hill and Delmar.


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