BEAR — Mohawks are back at Cape Henlopen High.
The Vikings edged Caesar Rodney High 9-8 in the semifinals of the DIAA boys’ lacrosse semifinals at Caravel Academy on Wednesday night. It’s the second consecutive season Cape Henlopen has made the state title game.
Last season, the Vikings all cut their hair into mohawks for the championship as they upset Salesianum. Since it worked so well last year, they will be sporting the same hairstyle on Saturday.
“This time I’m graduating so I don’t know how my mom’s going to like that,” said senior James Ashby, who led Cape Henlopen with three goals.
Cape, the second seed, will meet Salesianum again for the title. Sallies, the top seed, defeated Tower Hill 11-2 on Wednesday.
The time and location for Saturday’s championship game hasn’t been determined.
Cape Henlopen (14-5) scored four straight in the first half to open up a 5-1 lead in the first half, but CR (15-3) reeled off the next five goals to go up 6-5 in the third quarter.
The Vikings responded with four unanswered to go up 9-6 in the fourth. Sean MacLeish netted a pair for CR, but the Riders couldn’t find the net again.
“When you have two talented teams it’s a game of runs,” said CR coach Matt Faircloth. “They had a great run in the beginning and we fought our way back. To the last whistle, I was really proud of how this team fought, even when we didn’t have things go our way, they willed themselves throughout this entire game.”
Like the regular season contest between the two Henlopen Conference rivals, this was also a one-goal game. The Vikings beat CR 6-5 on May 6.
“It’s always an emotional game and they have great athletes so you always know it will be a tight game,” said Cape coach Jack Lingo. “They played hard and never gave up. You expect a tight game every time you play them.”
MacLeish’s goal that cut Cape’s advantage to one came with 1:30 left. The Vikings won the resulting faceoff and CR was called for a penalty with 1:05 remaining.
CR goalie Tyler Gross darted behind his goal and was able to intercept a Cape pass with 40 seconds left to start one more attack for the Riders. But Michael Hopkins snuck up behind him to force a turnover.
“He had his back to me, it was a hustle play that’s all,” Hopkins said.
Aside from a desperation heave toward midfield that found its way back to Cape goalie Chris Argo, the Riders never had possession in the final 40 seconds.
CR out-shot Cape 30-18, but Argo made 10 saves. Hopkins had three assists while Kyle Orton and Hank Coveleski each scored twice.
“We have a bunch of tough kids,” Lingo said. “They’re mentally tough. We’ve been in games like this before. We have an extremely tough schedule that prepares us for these moments and I think that might be the difference.”
“It was pretty hard,” Ashby said. “But we found a way to win.”
Luke Rankin tied the game for CR with five seconds left in the second quarter and Riders earned their only lead of the night when Pat Matsko scored with eight minutes left in the third.
Jacob Brown equalized for Cape before Ashby gave the Vikings the lead for good. Brock Maloomian also added a goal for Cape.
MacLeish, a senior, led the Riders with three goals and Nolan Aloe scored twice. Tom Aloe, another senior who played his final high school game, also had a goal for CR.
“They left a phenomenal legacy,” Faircloth said about the CR senior class. “It’s been very special to watch all these kids grow up and turn into the men they are today. There’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to be successful in life and I’m glad they’ve been able to set great examples for the younger kids so we can keep this program where it needs to be.”