Pandas tops Riders with penalty kicks

Pandas tops Riders with penalty kicks

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Pandas tops Riders with penalty kicks

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SMYRNA

One-hundred minutes of play couldn’t decide a winner, meaning penalty kicks were the necessary reckoning in a DIAA Girls Soccer State Tournament semifinal at Charles V. Williams Stadium on Wednesday night.

Padua was clearly superior from the 12-yard spot, converting all four attempts to Caesar Rodney’s two and making the Pandas 2-1 winners and state finalists again.

The teams were tied 1-1 at halftime, through 80 minutes of regulation and two sudden-victory 10-minute overtime periods.

“It’s just two heavyweights. When we play CR, it’s always a dogfight,” Pandas coach Joe Brown said. “They’re a very good team. We’re a very good team. Both teams had great opportunities to put the game away and didn’t take advantage and both just defended well in the back also.”

Padua controlled possession during much of the first overtime, but its best shots were from long range. CR then threatened with a corner kick but couldn’t get a strong attempt at goal. In the second OT, Alexis Prillaman’s breakaway ended with she and a Padua player both tumbling to the turf less than 10 yards from the goal, as Riders screamed foul.

That meant penalty kicks, with each team slated to take five to determine a winner. The Pandas only needed four, as Hailey Lawler, Regan Lehman, Karlina Panella and freshman Gabrielle Villermaux converted. Two of CR’s four tries went high.

No. 2-seeded Padua (16-1-1) will play top-seeded Charter of Wilmington (17-0-1) in Saturday’s state final at 7 p.m. at Caravel. The Force downed Sussex Tech in Wednesday’s semifinal doubleheader opener, 3-1.

No. 3-seeded CR finished 16-2. The CR-Padua semifinal was a rematch of last year’s championship game, won by Padua 2-1 in overtime.

“It’s always exciting when we play Caesar Rodney just because it’s always such a competitive game,” Lawler said, “and for some reason, it always is the longest game we play. It was really important for us to stay focused on who we had to mark, and our defense did such a good job.”

Padua will make its sixth appearance in the last eight state title games, having won four (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2012).

Caesar Rodney was seeking its fourth title game berth but first state crown, having fallen to Padua in 2007 and 2012 and Tower Hill in 2010. Prillaman and Stevens, the goalie, scored in the PK round for CR.

“Very good teams, evenly matched, back and forth all night long,” CR coach Darrell Gravatt said. “Just like last year’s final, either team could have come out on the winning side. I felt like we played well. We did the best we could. It just didn’t fall our way. It seems like we’ve been down that road before.”

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