CeCe Cicone has been protecting the cage for the Ursuline lacrosse team the past five years, and she didn’t want that job to come to an end Saturday.
So Cicone made her 16th save of the day the biggest, stopping Polytech’s Jenna Hayes with 38 seconds left to preserve the Raiders’ 9-8 victory over the Panthers in the opening round of the DIAA Girls Lacrosse State Tournament.
Fifth-seeded Ursuline (12-4) will play top-seeded Cape Henlopen in the semifinals on Tuesday, at a site and time to be determined. Fourth-seeded Polytech, making its first postseason appearance in just the program’s third year of existence, finished 13-2.
The Raiders’ Brooke Schmeusser scored off a beautiful assist from Laura Hurff to give Ursuline a 9-8 lead with 2:41 to play. Emily Blaszkow forced a Polytech turnover at the two-minute mark, but the Panthers got the ball back with just over a minute to play.
Hayes screamed toward the cage, but Cicone stopped the point-blank shot with her thigh and controlled the rebound.
“I knew if I made that save, that would be it,” Cicone said. “When I saw her coming, I just held strong. Then when I saw the ball on the ground, I put my stick over it and I knew that we had it.”
Mary Abram scored five goals and Schmeusser added three for Ursuline, but none of that would have mattered without Cicone. The Panthers outshot the Raiders 37-16, only to see Ursuline’s goalkeeper stop them time after time.
“CeCe is phenomenal. She is a fifth-year starter in the cage,” Ursuline coach Lauren Berg said. “… She knows where to be, and she plays her best games when we need her the most. She comes up big in big games.”
Cicone was so stellar that she often forced Polytech to shoot wide of the cage.
“They were trying to shoot to the corners,” Cicone said. “You could tell, because sometimes they would miss, and when they scored, they had a really good placement of shots. … They shot high, they shot low, they just went everywhere.”
Jamie Trabaudo scored three goals for Polytech, and Hayes and Addie Stang each scored twice.