When Tatnall earned two penalty corners with less than a minute left Thursday night, everyone knew where the ball was going to go.
The Hornets went straight to Shay Cannon, but the Delmar defense managed to deflect both blasts by the Tatnall star and held on for a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the DIAA Field Hockey Tournament at Dover High.
“She’s an awesome player. We know she has a rocket shot,” Delmar’s Booter Ellis said of Cannon. “She’s unbelievable, and we knew we had to get there as fast as we can.”
The third-seeded Wildcats (17-1) will meet No. 1 Cape Henlopen for the state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Dover High. Cape has edged Delmar by one goal in the last two state finals. No. 2 Tatnall finished its season at 15-3.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead just 2:09 into the game when Ellis blasted one in on a corner.
“We definitely like to come out and score in the first five minutes,” Ellis said. “It gives us the momentum, it gives us the drive. We kind of sit back sometimes when we don’t score in the first five minutes.”
Delmar’s Shaina Thompson was awarded a penalty stroke in the 25th minute, and she converted to make it 2-0.
“It’s very intense, because it’s one-on-one,” Thompson said of the penalty stroke, a rare opportunity. “I like to keep it intense and make sure that my stroke is on point. I know that it’s a game-changer.”
Cannon earned a chance at her own penalty stroke in the 49th minute, and she scored to pull Tatnall within 2-1.
“It was actually the most calm I’ve ever felt on a stroke,” Cannon said. “I wanted it so bad. I wanted to help bring my team up.”
The Hornets pushed the attack over the final nine minutes and earned two corners in the final minute. Delmar knew who had to be stopped.
“They were at our A.I. game [at the Turf Bowl], and they saw the three straight [penalty corners] that I took,” Cannon said. “But I was ready to blast it and do it again. It just didn’t work out.”
Tatnall goalkeeper Abby Horgan kept the Wildcats in check most of the night with five saves. Delmar goalkeeper Tressie Windsor made six saves and sprinted 15 yards out of the cage to thwart a couple of late charges by the Hornets.
“She has a tendency to show up in big games, and she did that again tonight,” Wildcats coach Jodi Hollamon said of Windsor. “She was the backbone to our defense, and our defense played very well.”