It was a 60-minute game, but five minutes made all the difference.
Cape Henlopen scored three goals in a 4:56 period spanning the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, then held on for a 3-1 victory over Delmar in an early season field hockey showdown Tuesday night.
It was a rematch of last year’s state championship game, won by Cape Henlopen, 3-2. And the top-ranked Vikings (4-1) expect to see the second-ranked Wildcats (5-1) again at the end of this season.
“That’s the best that we’ve played, but we’ll see them again,” Cape coach Kate Windett said. “I would put money on it that we’ll see them again. Hopefully, we’ll get better every game, because I know they’ll come back ready for blood.”
It could be a different story next time, since Delmar has an extremely young team likely to improve with more experience.
“We don’t have a senior on the field,” Wildcats coach Jodi Hollamon said. “I expected us to take this game, learn from it and hopefully meet them again in the playoffs.”
The first half was a tense defensive struggle, with only one shot on goal before Cape senior Anna Frederick surprised herself with a goal off a penalty corner with 2:25 left.
“The ball wasn’t meant to come to me,” Frederick said. “But when it came to me, I just decided to take the hit. … It was sort of an accident.”
The Vikings got loose on a breakaway 1:28 into the second half, and junior Allie Yeager blasted it home to make it 2-0.
“Sara [Young] was outside the circle and sent it in, and I just tried to fire it as hard as I could,” Yeager said.
Cape struck again just 1:03 later, as Frederick worked it in deep and passed to Yeager for another goal.
“I just got a touch on it,” Yeager said. “Anna sent it in, and I got a touch on it and got it on goal.”
“We kind of took the wind out of their sails, coming out and going up 3-0,” Windett said. “It’s hard to come back from that, even with a good team like Delmar.”
The Wildcats hit the post with a shot midway through the second half, then finally got on the board when Sara Ellis scored on a corner with 1:03 to go.
“We let five minutes of hockey be the difference in the game,” Hollamon said. “The last two minutes in the first half and the first three minutes in the second half. Other than that, it was a great game.”
There may be another great one at the end of the season.