The Caesar Rodney girls soccer team won every game of the year heading into the state championship against Padua. A double-overtime loss forced the Riders to settle for second and a near-perfect season, but still earned them “Team of the Year” honors.
Behind four first-team, all-state players, Caesar Rodney blended a strong combination of upper- and lower-classmen to build a solid foundation for years to come.
“We reached most of our goals,” said Head Coach Darrell Gravatt. “But we’d still like to win states.”
Returning junior-captain Shelby Warren, a member of the first-team all-state squad, echoed Gravatt’s comments about a state championship being the final team goal, especially after settling for second twice.
“It would mean so much to everyone who’s been a part of Caesar Rodney soccer [to win a state title],” Warren said.
Caesar Rodney won the southern division and conference championships, while beating the second, third and fourth ranked teams in the state. Padua, the state champion, was ranked first in the state.
“When the dust settled at the end of the year, people knew how good Caesar Rodney was,” Gravatt said.
And this team isn’t going away any time soon.
The Riders lose only three seniors from last season’s state runner-up, returning four members of the all-state team.
“We should be really strong again next season,” Gravatt said. “This is a special group of girls.”
Warren and fellow captain Miranda Smith said the team improved the most on its chemistry as the season went along and more girls began to take on their leadership roles.
“You have to guide them in the right direction,” said Smith, another member of the first-team, all-state group. “Even though it didn’t go in our favor, I was still really proud of the team.”
Thanks to the departing seniors, the returning team has a new appreciation for the magnitude of every game.
“Winning every game is not an easy task,” Warren said. “You only have four years to win a state title. You should never take one for granted.”
Even though Smith wishes she had one more chance, she still expects plenty of wins from her Caesar Rodney teammates next season.
“I expect a lot of good things with such good talent,” Smith said. “I think they’ll win the [state] title next year.”
With so many great players coming back, the expectations will be as high as ever.
“They’re very, very good and only getting better,” Gravatt said.