The Caesar Rodney girls' soccer team is moving on to the semifinals to face northern rival Padua Academy.
Two local girls’ soccer teams were able to press through the first round of the state tournament, but after games this past weekend only one is advancing beyond that level.
The Caesar Rodney squad pulled out another win Saturday night, dropping Sanford 4-0 and improving to 18-0 on the season. In an earlier game, Dover fell to Padua, the defending state champs, 7-0.
CR head coach Darrell Gravatt said the victory over Sanford went as expected and thought the Riders’ opponents put up a good fight.
“It was a pretty good game and was fairly even in the beginning 20 minutes,” Gravatt said. “Then we just kind of took control and went from there.”
The Riders’ goal scorers were Jazmine Reeves, who scored twice, Kayla Jachimowski and Elayna Simpson. Keeper Holly Thompson picked up four saves and her 15th shutout of the season, tying a school record.
Gravatt said knowing how capable Thompson is in the goal for the Riders makes the team a lot more comfortable playing in front of her.
“She is the best keeper in the state,” he said. “She can make that great save and the team just feels much better playing in front of her.”
The Riders advance to the semifinals where they will meet Padua in a rematch of 2007’s state championship final on Wednesday.
CR lost that game to the Pandas 3-0, but they avenged the loss during the regular season this year with a 5-2 win.
With the two teams having a couple of meetings under their belts in recent times, Gravatt said he knows what to expect from the Riders’ opponent.
“I know they’re going to try and come out hard against us,” he said. “They just throw an all-out attack out there against us.
“They play a very similar style to us and they just throw as many players as they need to out there to try and score.”
That familiarity, the head coach said, also has made playing the two-time defending state champs easier on the Riders.
A few years ago, playing against Padua was a learning experience because they had already been so successful and his squad was a growing team.
“Each time we got closer when we faced them, and even in the championship game last year when they beat us it was close until they end when they scored two late goals,” Gravatt said. “This year we got them for the first time. We just have to come out and play our best game.”
Padua will pose the biggest challenge the Riders have seen this season and stand in their way of making their second straight state finals appearance, but the challenge is one Gravatt’s squad is excited to meet.
“They are excited to play Padua,” he said. “It is a positive challenge. They want to play with and beat the best teams in the state.”
The two teams will square off at 7 p.m. tonight at Wesley College.
Dover falls in quarters
Those same Padua Pandas that will play CR May 28 ousted another local team this past Saturday, as they easily dropped Dover High School’s girls’ team 7-0.
Senators’ head coach Kristen Lupo said her team had a good season and was just overmatched when it came to playing the perennial powerhouse.
“The girls played hard,” Lupo said. “They were a good team and we just had a hard time keeping up with them.
“Even though they were a No. 3 ranked team, they played like a No. 1.”