On paper, it all seemed so similar.
Cape Henlopen and Delmar, meeting in the state title game for the second straight season. And for the second straight season, Cape came out on top, this time by way of a 2-1, nerve-racking win.
But for the Vikings, it was completely different.
“People keep comparing to last year’s team, but only three of these girls started,” Cape coach Kate Windett said. “It’s a complete new team and they really stepped up. I think they surpassed last year.”
A first-year head coach and only three returning starters gave way to “no pressure” for the 2012 season, according to Windett.
After the celebration, Windett said she didn’t expect anything less.
“I didn’t ever expect anything less than this, and I knew it was coming.
“It’s just surreal,” Windett said. “I’m so proud of them. I don’t even want to be in the pictures because this was all them.”
Sara Young’s second-half goal with 11:41 left in the game proved the difference, breaking a tense 1-1 tie. For Young, a senior, her final game couldn’t have gone much better.
“This is my senior year. I wanted this more than anything, and I know everyone on my team felt the same way,” Young said. “This is the best thing ever.”
Cape jumped out to an early lead on Tiara Duffy’s score with five minutes left in the first half. The score stayed that way until Delmar’s Amy Wilson knotted things at 1 with 19:34 remaining. It stayed that way until Young’s game-winner.
It was another gritty match between these two, who also faced off earlier this season, a 3-1 win for the Vikings on Sept. 25.
“I knew in September when we saw them that we were going to see them today,” Windett said. “They’re a great team. To beat them is a huge accomplishment. They didn’t let down the whole game. It’s good to beat a good team.”
For the Wildcats, it marks two straight years thwarted by the same opponent with a state crown within reach. Delmar coach Jodi Hollamon said after a solemn speech to her team that despite the two straight titles, her team proved Cape is mortal.
“I’m proud of my team,” Hollamon said. “We knew coming in they were beatable, and I think we proved that today.”
Cape has looked beatable the past two games after blazing through the regular season at 14-1, their only loss coming to Severna Park (Md.). Against Caravel in the semifinals, it trailed 1-0 at halftime before coming back to win 2-1. So when Delmar tied it up on Saturday, Windett said the Vikings were prepared.
“I told them they were there the other night. Against Caravel, they were losing and they knew how to battle back,” Windett said. “So it was just a matter of time. When you keep attacking and attacking, it’s bound to go in.”