Sara “Booter” Ellis scored three goals for Delmar on Thursday night.
But nobody threw a hat. It was too cold for that.
Ellis’ hat trick led Delmar past Polytech 3-1 in the semifinals of the DIAA Field Hockey State Tournament at Cape Henlopen High School. The second-seeded Wildcats (17-1) reached the championship game for the second straight year and will take on top-seeded Cape Henlopen for the title at 1 p.m. Saturday at Milford High.
Cape nipped Delmar 3-2 for the championship last year, and the Vikings handed the Wildcats their only loss so far this year, a 3-1 setback on Sept. 25. So Delmar would love to turn the tables this time.
But to make that possible, the Wildcats had to down sixth-seeded Polytech (13-4). The game was scoreless at halftime, despite plenty of end-to-end action.
That changed quickly in the second half after Delmar’s Amy Wilson controlled the ball through the defense on a 60-yard run to set up a penalty corner. Shaina Thompson popped it out to Ellis, who banged it home from the top of the circle with 24:09 left.
“I went for it,” Wilson said. “I knew we needed to get down there, because it was on their side a lot. When we got the corner, it was the best feeling.”
The Panthers tied it 3½ minutes later when Brooke Watkinson scored during a scrum in front of the cage. But Ellis blasted away on another corner to push the Wildcats up 2-1 with 14:15 to play.
“She’s pretty tough when she gets a hold of it,” Delmar coach Jodi Hollamon said of Ellis. “She is definitely one of our go-to girls on corners, obviously. She took care of the job tonight.”
“We said, ‘This is it,’ ” Ellis said of Delmar’s second-half mentality. “We had 30 minutes left in this game. It was do or die, now or never. There’s no next time. We just put everything we could on the field.”
Ellis scored her third goal with 7:56 left when she slipped around a Polytech defender and backhanded it into the net.
“That was just pure luck,” she said. “It was just lucky.”
Polytech led 8-6 in corners, but the Panthers couldn’t convert.
“The difference was [Delmar’s] offensive corners were awesome,” Polytech coach Lynn Richardson said. “… My girls played great and made them earn it.”
Wildcats goalkeeper Tressie Windsor also was a big factor, making three saves and pushing out as much as 10 yards away from the goal several times to snuff shots before they materialized.
“She’s always aggressive,” Hollamon said of Windsor. “She is a force to be reckoned with, and she steps up to play in the big games.”
The Wildcats have one more big game on Saturday.