The Wilmington Christian field hockey team kept knocking on the door.
Sophomore Sydney Baffone finally knocked it down in the 35th minute, scoring the game’s only goal to lead the Warriors past St. Georges 1-0 on Tuesday in the opening round of the DIAA Field Hockey Tournament at Tower Hill’s Richardson Field.
Eighth-seeded Wilmington Christian (12-2-2) will meet top-seeded Cape Henlopen in the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Milford High. No. 9 St. Georges finished 12-3-1.
“We knew that we were getting a lot of chances,” Baffone said. “Our coaches were telling us we just need to follow through and keep going strong.”
The Warriors dominated possession in the first half, and earned a string of six straight penalty corners in the final three minutes. But Hawks goalkeeper Taylor Fry made three big saves, and the rest of the St. Georges defense – led by Andrea Gregg, Lacie Craft and Hayley Bolden – held strong to keep it scoreless.
“Kudos to our defense for getting us out of that mess, because that was a mess,” Hawks coach Jessica Bloch said. “They just played amazing to get it out of there.”
The defensive stand appeared to give St. Georges the momentum at halftime.
“I don’t know that they were [getting frustrated], but I was,” Wilmington Christian coach Pam Love said of her team. “We were having trouble putting it in the hole.”
The Warriors kept attacking, and Baffone banged it in during a scrum in front of the cage 5:21 into the second half.
“It went in front of the goal, and then it was really confusing because there were just so many girls in there,” Baffone said. “I just happened to touch it last.”
The WCS defense made the lead stand up, holding St. Georges to just two shots. The Hawks earned their second penalty corner of the game with 2:05 to play, but the defensive unit of Katherine Arnold, Zosia Roberts, Kelly Ogle and Annika Roberts didn’t allow a shot.
“Penalty corners are always the most nerve-wracking,” said Arnold, who cleared the ball out of the circle. “But the four of us in the defensive corner, we’ve done a thousand defensive corners and we know how to react to every play the offensive team gives us.”
It was a frustrating end to a satisfying season for St. Georges, which was making its first state tournament appearance.
“This was big to us. Our girls definitely were nervous,” Bloch said. “I told them, ‘Don’t let one goal change the way you feel about the season.'”