At the start of the season, the goal for the Dover Lady Senators girls lacrosse team was clear. A season removed from posting the best record in program history, a playoff berth eluded them, something they aimed to change.
With just a few games left, the Lady Senators are among the handful of teams in the postseason conversation.
Through 13 games, Dover has a 10-3 record, having beaten Middletown, Delaware Military Academy, St. Andrew’s, Smyrna, Appoquinimink, Sussex Tech, Sanford, Indian River, Newark Charter and Caesar Rodney. The Lady Senators have tasted defeat just three times, falling to Maryland’s Sts. Peter and Paul, Polytech and Padua Academy, losing each by just a goal.
Led by a strong defensive effort and a well-rounded offense, the Lady Senators find themselve trailing only one team in the Henlopen North Division, nine-time defending state champion Cape
Henlopen. Dover will close out the season against Cape Monday.
Earlier in the season, Head Coach Molly Phillips spoke about the challenges outside of the field that the players must go through, including school and other responsibilities, making their success this season even more impressive.
“Although we have small numbers, we practice in the evening to allow the girls the opportunity to stay after school to complete assignments, get extra help, or complete other obligations,” said Phillips. “We have had some tough games this year, but our girls are fairly resilient. We continue to focus on our goals one game at a time.”
Seniors Maya Guthrie and Ashley Manifold have led the defense in front of freshman goalie Regan Torbert. Dover allows an average of seven goals per game, having shut out DMA and held three opponents to five goals or fewer.
On offense, the Lady Senators have flexed their muscles. Six players have tallied double-digit goals, leading to an average of 14 goals per game. Only St. Mark’s and Cape Henlopen have scored more total goals on the season.
Grace Gast has scored a team-high 67 goals through 12 games. Fellow midfielder Riley McQuaide has 45 goals, while Angela Poole on attack has added 20 of her own.
Meanwhile, Cydney Barnes, Ava Niebryzdowski, Maddie Small and Natavia Galloway have combined to score 50.
“Our defense has really gelled as the season progressed and we have several girls who are able to read the field and go hard to the goal,” Phillips said. “Our kids have never deviated from the team goal of making it into the state tournament; with a young team we are committed to growing the program to be a top contender in the state.”
The Lady Senators will travel to Sussex Academy for their final road matchup tonight, but the finale at home against Cape Henlopen could be one of the biggest games in the program’s history.
Cape isn’t just the best team in the state, they’re ranked among the top 100 in the country by maxpreps.com. Down the home stretch, they seem to be hitting their stride.
“The girls are really trusting each other and really love working as one unit,” said Cape Henlopen head coach Lindsay Eichner. “We have a good spread of scoring and assisting and our defense is working together really well.”
The Lady Vikings average four goals against on the defensive end, lowest in the state. They boast four players with 20 or more goals. Goalie Vienna Iacona holds a save percentage above .500.
While coming away with a win over Cape is undoubtedly a tall task, win or lose, the Lady Senators can come out of the matchup a better team if they play with the same effort they have all year. Regardless, Dover hopes they will have done enough to grab the playoff berth they’ve worked so hard for.