When the 2017 DIAA Division I Boys Soccer State Tournament opens with the first round on Saturday, the Caesar Rodney Riders will be one of the eight teams to take the field after being named the No. 3 overall seed last week.
CR had another impressive season, ending the year 13-2 with a 10-1 mark against the conference, clinching the Henlopen North Division title.
The Riders got off to a hot start, winning six straight to open the year. After dropping their only two games of the season, back-to-back, against Sussex Tech and last year’s state runner-up Appoquinimink, CR ran the table to close out the season winning seven straight games.
Caesar Rodney Head Coach Darrell Gravatt says the team’s success is built upon the foundation of an experienced and well-rounded unit all playing their roles at a high level.
“We have a strong attack that includes many of our players,” Gravatt said. “We also have a very good back line and a seasoned senior keeper who runs them.”
During the regular season, CR boasted one of the more dangerous offensive attacks in the state, finishing with 72 goals-for which was tied with defending state champion Salesianum for most in Division I.
While they finished among the middle of the pack in goals-against this season, nearly a quarter of those goals came over a two game stretch in losses to Sussex Tech and Appo.
After being knocked out in the opening round of last year’s state tournament, the Riders are hoping for better results this time around.
Having earned the No. 3 seed in this year’s tournament, CR draws No. 6 Newark Saturday at Caravel Academy.
The Yellow Jackets went 9-5-1, finishing behind St. Georges Tech (11-3-1) and Appoquinimink (11-2-2) in the tough Blue Hen Conference.
Newark made the tournament last season, also as the No. 6 seed, falling in overtime to No. 3 Charter School of Wilmington.
Like the Riders, Newark has played well down the stretch. After a rough start to the season, opening the season 0-2-1, the Yellow Jackets won nine of their last 12 games including their last three against Delaware Military Academy, Mt. Pleasant and Henlopen South Champion Laurel.
While Newark will be an unfamiliar opponent for the Riders, according to Coach Gravatt, he believes they’re prepared for all the challenges ahead.
“We’re as ready as we’re going to be for the state tournament,” Gravatt said. “The guys have worked hard all season. It will be exciting and our guys are looking forward to it.”
State Tournament opens Saturday at Caravel Academy and Dover High
Caravel Academy and Dover High School will host the four opening round games of the Division I DIAA Boys Soccer State Tournament beginning Saturday.
Caravel Academy will host No. 3 Caesar Rodney v. No. 6 Newark at 5 p.m. before defending state champion and No. 1 seed Salesianum faces off against No. 8 Charter School of Wilmington at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, Dover High will host No. 2 Apppoquinimink v. No. 7 Sussex Central at 5 p.m. followed by No. 4 St. Georges Tech taking on No. 5 Cape Henlopen at 7 p.m.
Both the semifinals (11/15) and championship game (11/18) will be held at Smyrna High School.