HOCKESSIN — Dover High’s field hockey players went north again on Saturday with dreams of being a Cinderella squad.
But the 10th-seeded Senators came back home with the bitter taste of a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Wilmington Christian in their mouths.
The only goal that separated the Warriors (16-1) and Dover (11-5-1) was a somewhat controversial goal in the second half of the DIAA state tournament second-round game played the Hockessin Montessori School.
The victory puts Wilmington Christian in Wednesday’s state semifinals where it will face third-seeded Delmar at the University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium.
Senator coach Denise Kimbro, whose team reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1999, liked Dover’s effort. The Senators knocked off seventh-seeded Middletown on Tuesday.
“I’m proud of them, the effort that they put in,” said Kimbro. “We should have scored more goals. But it was a tight game.”
The Warriors’ game-winning goal came with 23:14 remaining when Jennifer Kurlej knocked in a loose ball from close range.
But the Senators argued right away that the goal shouldn’t have counted. Kimbro said that the initial shot hit a Dover player’s upper body and rolled off.
As such, she said the play should have been automatically blown dead and Wilmington Christian awarded a penalty stroke.
Instead, Kimbro said, the officials told her they have the discretion of stopping the play or not.
Whatever the case, the two field referees had a lengthy discussion about the goal, eventually calling in the third official from the sideline before ruling that the goal counted.
“On any given day, it would have been a stroke, not a goal,” said Kimbro. “They said they don’t have to call a stroke, they can wait and see what happens.”
The Senators best chance to tie the game came in the closing minute when they were awarded seven straight penalty corners. But Dover only got one shot on goal in that span.
The Senators were scrambling for control of the ball in front of the Warriors’ cage when the final whistle sounded.
“Wilmington Christian has a great defense,” said Kimbro. “And they’re older, wiser, more mature players.”
Wilmington Christian finished with advantages of 10-3 in shots and 13-7 in penalty corners. But Dover senior goalie Brookyln Peete kept turning away the Warriors as she finished with 11 saves.
“I thought her effort was exceptional,” Kimbro said about Peete. “She did great.”
Less than four minutes after Wilmington Christian scored the game’s first goal, the Senators tied it at 1-1 with 13:05 left in the first half.
Joy Adkins worked the ball in and then centered it to senior Ananda Cann, who knocked in the goal from in front.
The good news for Dover is that they have a number of young players slated to return from this team. Kimbro hopes the Senators’ success this fall will inspire her players to try to get back here again.
“Considering the fact that I had six 10th graders on the field, I think it might,” she said. “They know how this feels and they won’t forget it.”