As the final week of 2016 winds down to a close, there’s no better time than now to take a look back at all of the top local sports accomplishments.
While several teams had standout seasons, a select few made their mark on the 2016 season, including the Caesar Rodney tennis and girls’ soccer teams, Dover Senators baseball and the Polytech Panthers field hockey and girls’ lacrosse teams.
Caesar Rodney Tennis & Soccer
The Caesar Rodney Riders tennis teams continued their dominance on the court in 2016, clinching conference titles and seven state titles, including three doubles championships.
Both the Caesar Rodney boys’ and girls’ tennis teams claimed DIAA Tennis State Championship titles after going undefeated during the regular season.
The Riders boys’ team went 15-0 during the regular season with Parker Barton (2nd Singles), David Haynes (3rd Singles) claimed state titles in singles competition - while the team of Cyrus Shanehsaz and Hirsh Patel took the 1st Doubles state title and the 2nd Doubles team of Gregor Gravelle and Adam Ahern took the runner-up spot.
They opened the year sweeping their first nine contests, all against Henlopen Conference opponents. After a 4-1 win over Henlopen South standout Milford, the boys ended the season with another streak of sweeps, winning their final five matchups 5-0.
At the Henlopen Conference Championships, the boys team claimed two of the three singles titles and both doubles titles. Barton and Haynes won at 2nd and 3rd Singles respectively. The teams of Shanehsaz/Patel and Gravelle/Ahern won out at 1st and 2nd Doubles.
Meanwhile, the Lady Riders went 14-0 as a team, taking home four state titles won by Halle Parker (2nd Singles), Natasha Sijan (3rd Singles) and doubles teams of Katherine Tamesis and Micaela Thorogood (1st Doubles) and Chloe Mangubat and Caroline Pangle (2nd Doubles).
They swept all 14 of their regular season opponents and moved onto the Henlopen Conference Championships where they swept all five titles.
“Overall, I’m very proud of the girls for their accomplishment,” said Caesar Rodney Head Coach Zach Taylor. “There was a lot of pressure on us this year to win after finishing so close last year. The girls committed themselves to playing tennis and working out in the offseason and really came together as a team at the end of the season.”
Another CR spring team, Lady Rider’s soccer, also had a standout year - finishing the season 14-1 overall and advancing to the DIAA Girls Soccer State Championship Game.
They outscored opponents 114-8 and suffered their only loss of the regular season to Padua Academy.
After opening the season 2-0 with wins over St. Mark’s and Sussex Central, CR suffered their one and only loss to the Pandas before rallying off 12 wins in row to close out the regular season. During that stretch of a dozen games, the Lady Riders won all but three of those games by four goals or more including six by seven or more goals.
Behind all-state players Aleya Cummings - who broke the state record for goals in a season - Lynsy Gruwell, Jessie Prillaman, Haley Prillaman and Kimmy Glasser the Lady Riders defeated Indian River for the Henlopen Conference Championship before knocking off both Dover and Middletown in the DIAA State Tournament to earn a berth into the championship game against Padua.
“It’s incredibly rewarding as a coach to see a player like Aleya develop to the point where she can dominate in games and consistently perform at the highest level,” said Caesar Rodney Head Coach Darrell Gravatt about the standout scorer.
In the postseason opener, the Lady Riders scored seven first-half goals, three apiece by both Cummings and Jessie Prillaman, on their way to an 8-0 victory over the Lady Senators.
In the next round, Jessie Prillaman scored the opening goal against Middletown and assisted on the other Lady Riders goal to Gruwell in their 2-1 win over the Lady Cavs in the semifinals - they’d go on to fall to Padua in the finals.
“As a team, we wanted to play an attractive, attacking brand of soccer,” said Gravatt about the confidence he had in his team. “In doing that, we believed the results would take care of themselves.”
Heading into the 2016 baseball season, the Dover Senators were expected to be one of the top teams in the Henlopen Conference and a contender at the state level.
“Expectations are always the same and that’s to win your last game of the season,” said Dover Head Coach Dave Gordon. “We have had a lot of success the past couple years and I know this group wants to keep that tradition going.”
The Senators responded to Gordon and the program’s expectations, starting the season off with five straight victories outscoring Lake Forest, Easton (Md.), Parkside (Md.) Polytech and Laurel by a combined score of 80-8.
After dropping two of their next three, Dover went undefeated the rest of the regular season, averaging nearly 10 runs a game over a stretch of 10 games.
Behind first team all-state players Garrett Lawson and Jordan Hutchins - who was also named the state’s player of the year - the Senators advanced to the postseason earning a first-round bye before defeating Red Lion and Archmere to advance to the DIAA Baseball State Tournament Semifinals.
In second round, Dover defeated Red Lion thanks to a homerun and three RBI from Garrett Lawson in a 10-3 victory.
In the quarterfinals against Archmere Academy, a Tyler Rosello RBI double in the sixth tied the game at 8-8 before an Avery Tunnell sac-fly gave them a 9-8 lead and the victory sending them to the semifinals where they fell to No. 1 St. Mark’s.
Polytech Lacrosse & Field Hockey
The Polytech field hockey and girls’ lacrosse squad had standout seasons in 2016, as both advanced to the state semifinals.
The Lady Panthers lacrosse team opened the season with six straight victories en route to 13-2 record, with their only losses coming to Cape Henlopen and Maryland school Worcester Prep.
They scored double-digit goals in all 15 games, scoring 20 or more goals four times during the season.
“We’ve been taking the season one game at a time,” said Polytech Head Coach Lynn Richardson heading into the postseason where the Lady Panthers were one of the favorites to go deep. “The team is excited about the upcoming playoffs.”
Behind all-state players Ali McKay, Jamie Trabaudo, Kaitlin Bergold and Madi McKay, Polytech earned a first round bye in the DIAA Girls Lacrosse State Tournament. The Lady Panthers would go on to defeated Caesar Rodney in the quarterfinals to advance to the state semifinals.
In the quarterfinals, Madi McKay scored eight goals - including her 100th career tally - to lead the Lady Panthers past Caesar Rodney 21-8. Moving onto the semifinals, they’d fall to Tower Hill, 11-10, despite four goals from Jamie Trabaudo.
Another Polytech team led by Coach Richardson, the Lady Panthers field hockey team, also made a deep run into the state tournament in 2016.
Polytech’s field hockey squad began the season winning six of their first seven games on their way to a 10-4-1 overall record.
After getting off to a hot start, the Lady Panthers played some tough games down the stretch against the likes of Delmar, Dover and Cape Henlopen. They maneuvered their way through the back end of their schedule, going 3-1-1 to secure a spot in the state tournament.
They advanced to the DIAA Field Hockey State Tournament with an uphill battle ahead, taking on higher seeds in both the first and quarterfinals rounds. Heading into the tournament, Polytech was confident they could contend for the state title.
“Our team is excited and ready for the state tournament,” said Richardson. “We have a nice balance of experienced players along with some young, hungry players who are looking forward to playing in their first state tournament.”
Backed by all-state selections, Camryn Dennis, Madi McKay and Mackenzie Estrada, the Lady Panthers upset No. 7 Archmere in the opening round before another upset victory over No. Caravel Academy in the quarterfinals to advance to the state semifinals.
They continued to play well in tight games even in the postseason. Polytech opened their playoff run with a 1-0 win over No. 7 Archmere Academy, with Lacy Bayley scoring the lone goal.
In a 2-1 quarterfinals victory, Bayley scored in overtime to shock the No. 2 Lady Bucs and send Polytech to the semifinals where they’d fall to Delmar, 2-0.