Caesar Rodney dropped a tough, well-played title match 3-1 Monday night to Padua in the DIAA D-1 Championship game played at Smyrna High School.

Caesar Rodney’s soccer team, including coaches and players, knew they had a tough match going into Monday night’s title game with Padua Academy. The Lady Riders played an improved, tougher schedule in hopes of reaching the championship match, and that goal was fulfilled. However, the Riders played a very strong game, but came up short in a 3-1 loss to the Pandas in the championship game played at Smyrna High School.

The victory gave Padua its third consecutive soccer crown, and its first Division One crown under the new split format.

Padua dominated play through much of the first half. Padua coach Joe Brown said his team stayed aggressive all night. “We kept attacking, and we needed our back line to hold against CR’s talented attackers, and we did a pretty good job,” he said.

Regan Lehman tallied the Pandas’ first goal on a Penalty Kick by in the 12th minute. The goal was scored after teammate Arryana Daniels, who was fouled in close range.

Padua continued to pressure on both ends of the field, and eventually scored their second goal in the 28th minute to take a 2-0 lead through the first forty minutes of the game. This time, Daniels scored off a precise pass.

Caesar Rodney defenders had a tough time at first keeping up with the speedy Panda attackers, but Rider keeper Kristiana Stevens kept the contest close.

After halftime, the Riders defense made some adjustments and allowed fewer scoring opportunities by Padua’s aggressive offense.

Caesar Rodney would finally get on the scoreboard. In the 53rd minute, Player of the Year Lexi Prillaman broke up the middle in close range, but was knocked down in the penalty area. She promptly scored her Penalty Kick in the left upper corner to make the game 2-1, favor the Pandas. Defensively, Stevens continued to make several tough saves to keep it a one-goal game.

Padua would then score an insurance goal about four minutes later, however, on a clutch shot from freshman Emilia Ryjewski. The Riders worked feverously to catch up, but were unable to score again.

Rider coach Darrell Gravatt said he’s done a lot to improve the schedule. “We try to put a good team on the field, but tonight was Padua’s night, they have a good team. We going to keep doing our best, that’s all we can do.”