Cape Henlopen continues Delaware girls lacrosse dynasty, but not without a challenge from Tatnall
There was nothing easy about Cape Henlopen's 12th straight DIAA girls lacrosse state championship.
Sure, it might have seemed automatic after the Vikings scored the first five goals, then extended the lead to 10 goals in the first minute of the second half.
But Tatnall climbed back, getting back within five midway through the second half before succumbing 17-10 on Thursday at Dover High School.
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Cape extended its winning streak against Delaware high school teams to 153 games, a stretch that began in 2009. The seven freshmen on the team were just toddlers when it began.
And Cape only had five players who had played in a state tournament game before this season after the spring season in 2020 was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic.
All of that was in the back of senior Lindsay Rambo's mind.
"There's a little bit of pressure because you don’t obviously want to end (the streak) in your senior year," she said. "This was a completely new team. It was exciting to see everyone come together throughout the season. But we had to go over everything, start over."
For the Vikings (18-1), that included rediscovering their focus after Tatnall (18-1) cut their 13-3 lead down to 14-9 on sophomore Lydia Colasante's second goal of the game at the 12:30 mark.
Cape Henlopen coach Lindsey Underwood had already called timeout a few minutes earlier when the Vikings' lead was seven goals because she could sense the momentum shifting.
"We just said, ‘This isn’t Cape lacrosse. Just settle down, play Cape lacrosse and relax,'" Underwood said. "We were just like, ‘everybody breathe.’"
So they did.
First, Cape cut about three minutes off the clock by controlling the ball and passing around the perimeter. Then the Rishko sisters took over. Freshman Louise Rishko and Elizabeth, a junior, scored to push the lead back up to seven with 6:38 left.
Junior Kelly Bragg led the Vikings with three goals, while Louise and Elizabeth Rishko each had two, as did seniors Emily Monigle and Riley Keen.
The defense and goalkeeper Destiny Kusen made sure the Hornets didn't threaten again.
"Our coach kind of warned us that they’re not going to give up," said Kusen, a senior. "The first half was really good, but then we just kind of dialed it back by accident in the second half. Then we came back because we had a lot on the line."
Still, Tatnall came away from this season with a lot to be proud of.
The Hornets had never gotten as far as the semifinals before this season, losing two years ago to Cape in the quarterfinals. And two of their best players are sophomores in Colasante, who scored more than 100 goals this season, including two on Thursday, and Kali Clayton, who led Tatnall with four goals.
Junior Teryn Singer added three goals.
"The first half, they got us with the physicality of the game," Tatnall coach Ruth Hiller said. "But the girls were able to dig deep and come back ... I think what happened was we found our stride and we made our connections.
"We got a taste of it, and we’ll be back. We’ll be focused, and the girls know what they want."
That, of course, is a state championship, something that Cape Henlopen has won for 12 straight seasons, and could be poised for more with most of the team returning in 2022.
Underwood welcomes that challenge.
"They’re definitely going to be back," she said about Tatnall. "They have a lot of talent. Ruth’s a great coach. They didn’t stop working the whole game."
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.