If there was any doubt after a four-loss season that Cape Henlopen wasn’t the favorite to win its seventh straight DIAA state girls lacrosse championship, Tuesday’s quarterfinals game against Ursuline set the tone for the rest of the playoffs.
The Vikings jumped out to a 10-0 lead over the first 15 minutes, which was good enough for a 13-1 halftime lead and 17-4 win at Champions Field at Cape Henlopen High School.
“That was probably the best first half that we played all year,” Vikings’ head coach P.J. Kesmodel said.
After Ursuline won the first two draw controls, Cape dominated. The Vikings forced two quick turnovers leading to transition goals.
Tess Bernheimer cleared the ball from the Raiders’ zone and as the Urusline defenders collapsed on her, the junior lobbed a pass over to senior attacker Jordan Brown, who deposited it easily past the Ursuline goalie for the 1-0 lead 1:11 in.
In almost the same fashion 1:18 later, junior Lizzie Frederick cleared to find senior Sarah Tappan for a goal.
The Raiders called a timeout, but it didn’t get much better, as Cameron Wick scored two, Cailey Thornburg and Brown added one each to give Cape a 6-0 lead with 17:27 left in the first half.
“I thought they were very tight and tentative,” Raiders’ head coach Feffie Barnhill said. “We made a lot of mistakes. I mean we won more than 50 percent of the first 10 draws and yet we didn’t have a shot at that point.”
Two more by Tappan, Brown’s third and one by senior Alexa Woodruff gave Cape the 10-0 lead with 10:27 remaining in the first before the Raiders got on the board.
“We just executed really well, played with some confidence and the transition game was just great,” Kesmodel said. “They made good decisions, drove the ball down the field and we had people open.”
Cape was dominating all parts of the field by then, picking up more ground ball, draw controls and shots.
“We just want it so much, and we know how important ground balls are – we stress it,” Frederick said.
“Every day in practice, we do so many ground ball drills. Possession is key because if you get the ball enough you’re going to score.”
It was the Raiders’ sophomore Brooke Schmeusser, who got the lone goal in the first half, scooping up the ground ball and finding net with 7:51 left in the first.
Cape continued their dominance as Bernheimer, Tappan and Kaitlyn Klabe all scored before the half.
While the scoring was distributed throughout the Cape attack – with Tappan leading the way with five goals – passing was led by Frederick, who had four assists.
The big thing the Vikings wanted to do was come out with an intensity and keep it going the whole game, which the Cape did while the starters were in.
“We just came out really excited,” Frederick said. “It was our seniors last night on the home field so we just wanted to give it all we had and we wanted this to be our best game so that we could get our last game on this field a memorable one for the seniors.”
In the second, Cape subbed the bench in and out and Ursuline’s Madeline Hughes and Schmeusser found the net against backup goalie Iseabal Cryne.
Schmeusser recorded a hat trick for the Raiders.
“She’s already scored 100 goals and she didn’t even play last year because she hurt her ankle,” Barnhill said. “Between eighth grade and the first half of this season, she’s already gotten her 100th goal, so she is a very good scorer and somebody who we’re going to depend a lot on next year.”
Cape’s win propels them into the semifinals, which is set for Thursday. The Vikings will play No. 4 Tower Hill, who beat fifth-seeded Charter 14-9.
The Vikings beat Tower Hill 12-7 in the final game of the season on May 8.
Kesmodel said if Cape places their shots as well as they did against Ursuline, they should have more success.
“They are very well coached like this team is,” Kesmodel said. “It’ll be a tough game. We pulled away from them (in the regular season), but we shot very poorly last time we played them. … When we shoot well, we do very well. That was a problem last time we played Tower Hill, we didn’t shoot that well.”