Only one team could win, but both Caesar Rodney and Charter School of Wilmington came out of Friday’s boys lacrosse season opener with some good feelings.
The Riders had a happy bus ride home, as junior Hunter Schaeffer pumped in five goals in an 11-4 victory. The Force came away thrilled with the play of goaltender Marshall Parks, who came up huge with 23 saves.
“It was a slippery one,” Caesar Rodney coach Drew Hughes said. “It was a little frustrating at times. Their goalie played outstanding. He made a lot of nice saves, and I felt like we had a lot of nice looks.
“We were moving the ball, sharing the ball, playing unselfish offense. But their goalie was hot.”
CR has high expectations after reaching the state championship game last season. The Riders whipped Charter 17-2 in last year’s state quarterfinals, and they peppered Parks with 48 shots Friday. But the senior repelled them repeatedly to keep it close.
“I’m floored by the way my goalie played,” Charter coach Tony Marconi said. “It was unexpected. He just played phenomenally. That was the best game I’ve ever seen him play, hands down.
“If you have a good goalie back there, it opens up a lot of things you can do defensively. That increases my level of confidence tenfold.”
The Force took a 1-0 lead when Andy Kearns bounced in a shot three minutes into the game. CR got off to a slow start, but Luke Rankin, Thomas Aloe and Schaeffer each found the net in a 64-second span late in the first quarter to make it 3-1.
Charter’s Kevin Clark scored 30 seconds into the second quarter, only to see the Riders rip off the next five goals. Garrett Dixon scored off Austin Hayward’s assist. David Schmidt converted Schaeffer’s pass just before being leveled by a defender. Schaeffer scored twice, and Rankin scored while CR was a man down to take an 8-2 lead at the half.
“I think it was a good season opener to get the win. We played hard,” Schaeffer said. “It was a little sloppy. We’ve got a lot of stuff to work on, but I think we’ll get there.”
Schaeffer struck two more times in the third quarter, picking up a loose ball in front at the 8:56 mark, then scoring off a rebound of Hayward’s shot with 7:45 left.
“He’s a warrior,” Hughes said of Schaeffer, a three-year starter and two-year captain. “He played outstanding. He always gives maximum effort. A lot of his goals were hustle goals.”
Clark and Tom Walker scored for Charter in the fourth. But the CR defense – led by senior Max Wilt and sophomore Kevin Patrick Sheahan – held the Force to 12 shots. Hunter Raymond made four saves for the Riders.