LEWES — Caesar Rodney High had about five and a half minutes to find one more goal.
But senior goalie Chris Argo and the rest of the Cape Henlopen High defense didn’t let that happen.
The Vikings took the title for the second year in a row when they held off CR for a 6-5 victory on Wednesday night. Cape has beaten the Riders in back-to-back season which comes after CR had won the previous three meetings.
It was also the first defeat of the season for the Riders (12-1) while the Vikings improved to 9-4 overall.
Making this win more impressive was the fact that Cape Henlopen had to replace 17 seniors from last year’s team that went on to win the state championship.
“They’re just a very, very well-coached program,” said CR coach Matt Faircloth. “To graduate the number of players that they did last year from a state championship team, you still know they’re going to come back with quality kids. I think they got us outside of our usual game and got us outside of our comfort zone.”
Cape Henlopen only scored once in the second half but that was all the Vikings needed.
David Schmidt brought the Riders within one goal when he scored with 5:39 left. The Riders pressed toward the Cape goal but turned the ball on consecutive forays into the offensive zone and Cape was able to burn off about three minutes.
The Riders finally regained possessions with 24.1 seconds left and called timeout deep in their own zone. The best chance they were able to get was a shot from Tom Aloe which was deflected out.
CR had one more chance with six seconds left but a pass toward the crease was over everyone’s head and the Vikings were able to storm the field where they all surrounded Argo.
The Riders never led as Cape took a quick 2-0 lead on two goals by freshman Jake Brown. They tied it 3-3 in the second quarter before Cape ended the first half with two unanswered goals.
“It’s awesome,” Argo said. “It’s definitely been a growing year for the team. We’ve got young players, like Jake Brown scoring two early goals, that’s huge.”
Senior Michael Hopkins scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal with 3:52 left in the third quarter.
Hopkins netted a pair of goals and two assists while Kyle Orton and Hank Coveleski also scored for Cape Henlopen.
“This is always one of the biggest games on our schedule that we look forward to every year,” Hopkins said. “To win it feels great.”
CR spent most of the third quarter playing a man down thanks to four penalties in the quarter.
The Riders were out-shot 28-19. They got two goals apiece from Aloe and Sean MacLeish, but didn’t have enough possession to challenge Cape in the second half.
“They were able to hold the ball better than we were,” Faircloth said. “When they had the ball, they were able to convert. When we had the ball we weren’t able to convert on a consistent basis.”
Argo recorded six saves and credited his defense for forcing CR into tough shots.
“I thought we were sliding well and held them to mostly outside shots,” he said.
“It definitely wasn’t our best night but I’m proud of the way our kids fought back,” Faircloth said. “We left some points on the field that I think they could have made, but hats off to Cape.”
Staff writer Tim Mastro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 741-8224.
Follow @TimMastroDSN on Twitter.