CAMDEN – The Caesar Rodney girls soccer team was running out of patience.
The Riders were missing chance after chance, and the irritation reached its peak when Charter of Wilmington scored the first goal on Friday night at Rider Stadium.
Then senior forward Aleya Cummings channeled all of that frustration into her thunderous left foot, unleashing two goals from sharp angles as Caesar Rodney rallied for a 2-1 victory in a meeting of two of Division I’s top teams.
The second-ranked Riders (5-1) hit the far post on a breakaway in the eighth minute. Then Force goalkeeper Jenna Lussier barely saved a 25-yard shot off a set piece in the 12th minute. Then CR skittered a shot just wide of the near post in the 16th minute.
Third-ranked Charter (2-1) wasn’t able to mount much of a counterattack until Sam Peters lined up a 25-yard free kick in the 27th minute. She tucked it inside the far post for a 1-0 lead, but the Force knew there was more to do.
“That goal helped us a little bit, gave us a little bit of pep in our step,” Charter coach Jon Gillespie said. “But it was early, and it was a long game.”
The Riders gained a little pep in their step, too. Another chance went just wide in the 28th minute, but Cummings’ blast on a pass from Jameah Nixon was on target just a minute later.
“We had a lot of chances that we missed before then,” Cummings said. “I knew I had to finish it. They were winning, so we had to at least even it up.
“We were definitely outplaying them, so it was frustrating. They scored before us, even though we were outplaying them. After that goal, our energy picked up.”
It was knotted at halftime, when CR coach Darrell Gravatt didn’t make many changes.
“It was strange,” Gravatt said. “We had a lot of chances in the first half, and it was frustrating to end up at the half 1-1. I felt like we played really well.
“We just kept trying to do the same thing in the second half. We felt like we were going to break through.”
The tipping point came in the 54th minute, when Cummings wound up again from 20 yards out and found the net for a 2-1 lead.
“I knew that I couldn’t dribble through them, because they’re a really good defense,” Cummings said. “I just figured I should try to curve it around the goalie, but she’s really good, too.”
The senior didn’t have a lot of time or space, but she didn’t need much of either.
“She’s got a great shot,” Gravatt said. “She’s very, very dangerous. All three of our forwards are, but this was definitely Aleya’s night. When she gets half a turn, she can score.”
Charter earned a good chance to tie in the final minute. But CR managed to block Peters’ 30-yard drive well before it could get to goalkeeper Marianna Nuzzo.
“We had to hold them off,” Gravatt said. “They’re formidable.”
Gillespie was happy with his team’s final push. He just wanted to see more of it.
“The last 10 minutes of the game, the desperation of being down 2-1 and trying to get the tying goal was there,” the Charter coach said. “You could definitely see it, and that’s why we had the opportunities that we did. We talked to them about doing that for a whole game, not just a small period of time.”
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.