It’s been a long time for Caesar Rodney.
For many of the players on the Riders’ boys soccer team, they were in elementary school the last time their team made a state semifinal. The drought is over.
In a game that didn’t seem as close as the score indicates, CR rode a potent offense to a 3-2 win against Sussex Tech on Wednesday in the state quarterfinals at Milford. The win marks the first time CR has advanced to the semifinals since 2004.
“Fantastic,” CR coach Dave Gravatt said. “It feels like Christmas morning.”
The Riders raced out to a 2-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Ravens narrowed the lead to one twice but couldn’t find an equalizer. Chimaobi Ikwuagu netted the game-winner with 5:45 left.
“[Sussex Tech] is a good team,” Ikwuagu said. “They could put a goal in at any time to tie us. I knew we needed a goal to ice them.”
Ice them he did on a chilly night at Milford High School. Sussex, who upended No. 4 seed Concord last round, couldn’t find much offense. They mustered 13 shots compared to CR’s 25, including only two corner kicks.
CR won the regular-season meeting between these two, 3-0. Gravatt remarked that both teams played better, but lamented that the Riders missed some opportunities.
The two first-half Rider goals came courtesy of Jaki Farlow and Lott Phinnissee. Farlow’s came on a header less than 10 minutes into the game, and Phinnissee’s came on a rope from 10 yards out.
Alberto Cruz’s goal with 14 minutes left in the game cut the lead to 2-1 before Ikwuagu’s score.
But after Daren Willey’s score with a little more than a minute to go, the Ravens were just a goal down. Gravatt, however, said he didn’t worry.
“I felt pretty good we were gonna win,” he said. “I didn’t think they would score twice on us. I’m real proud of the guys.”
CR will move on to face the winner of Salesianum and Archmere in the semifinals. According to Ikwuagu, they won’t dwell on the historic win.
“On to the next round,” Ikwuagu said. “It’s a good win. We finally made it to the semifinals.”