Coming into the 2013 campaign, the Caesar Rodney girls soccer team had already established themselves as one of the state’s elite on the pitch. A year removed from a 15-0 record and a trip to the State Championship Game, this season many thought the sky was the limit for the Lady Riders.
While the Riders weren’t able to capture that elusive State Title, they did finish 14-1 advancing to the State Semifinals and earning the Dover Post “Team of the Year” in girls soccer.
Boasting a very young squad with varsity experience, the Riders were considered one of the favorites among the best-of-the-best in girls soccer. And while they may have come up short of their ultimate goal this season, with contributions from a number of returning players, the future looks extremely bright for the CR girls soccer program.
With only 2 seniors, Tatiana Marshall and Shelby Warren, on the roster the Riders had to have contributions from many underclassmen to be successful. And the Riders showcased one of the most talented group of underclassmen in the entire state.
Junior Alexis Prillaman and sophomore Alex Faulmino were arguably one of the best duos in the state when it came to putting the ball in the back of the net. In most games they were virtually unstoppable no matter what the opposition did to try and slow the two down.
While Prillaman and Faulmino were far from the only offensive standouts on the Riders, they dominated from start to finish this past season.
“They have it all,” said Caesar Rodney Head Coach Darrell Gravatt. “ They have great pace, a great first touch and they have intelligence. They just want to play good soccer and win.”
While Prillaman starred on offense for the Riders, the rest of their junior class, Leah Wells, Jennifer Jackson, Alyssa Imprescia and Cassidy Ramsey took care of the midfield for CR.
Along with Faulmino, many other sophomores impressed for the Riders including Alexis Smith, Allison Hollinger, Janiah Moore, Rebekah Bernat, Grace Wilt and goalkeeper Kristiana Stevens.
Freshman Aleya Cummings also showed she could play on the big stage, proving she’s ready for a major role on next year’s squad.
Behind their young core, the Riders jumped on opponents right out of the gate, starting 11-0 before tasting defeat for the first time. The Riders finally tasted defeat for the first time falling to Sussex Tech 1-0, a team that also advanced to the State Semifinals.
After that speed-bump, the Riders went on to win their remaining 3 regular season games to finish 14-1 overall heading into the playoffs.
In the State Tournament, the Riders picked up where they left off in the regular season defeating St. Mark’s in the opening round and Archmere in the Quarterfinals. In the two games, the Riders outscored their opponents 9-0.
Then, it was on to a matchup with an old nemesis, Padua Academy. That Panda’s ended the Riders run in 2012, winning 2-1 in the State Championship Game. Unfortunately, the Riders once again couldn’t tame Padua falling 1-0 in penalty kicks.
Even though the Riders weren’t able to make it back to the State Championship Game, they still have an awful lot to look forward to as team.
Returning next year is an exciting young core comprised of 4 All-State players, including Prillaman who was named Player of the Year.
They will bring back nearly an entire offense that outscored their opponents 98-3 this season, while scoring 6 or more goals in 12 of their 15 games. Not to mention, the offense scored 9 goals a remarkable 7 times in 15 tries.
The Riders defense that allowed only 3 goals against in the regular season returns led by sophomore goalkeeper Stevens who recorded 12 regular season shutouts and 2 in the playoffs.
Yes, the Riders weren’t able to bring home the hardware they so desperately want this season. However, with the talent that remains and the overall drive to win, the Riders will be back next season.
“We wanted to make a statement,” said Faulmino during their playoff run. “We wanted to go into the tournament strong and send a message to the whole state that we’re here to win.”
For the Riders, the goal has not changed. So, don’t be surprised if come next season, the Riders finally deliver that message in full.