WOODSIDE — For many of Polytech High’s players, the thrill of Thursday night’s victory was like deja vu all over again.
In the fall, the Panthers earned the school’s first berth in a field hockey state championship game.
And just like in field hockey, the Panthers will meet a formidable Cape Henlopen squad in the state championship game.
Polytech (15-1) will take on top-seeded Cape (13-4) — the six-time defending state champ — in the finals on Tuesday at Dover High at 7 p.m.
But the daunting task of trying to dethrone the Vikings didn’t keep the Panthers from happily celebrating their win over the Spartans (12-5) on a cool, rainy night.
“It’s amazing,” said junior Jamie Trabaudo, who scored five goals. “We work so hard in hockey and lacrosse.
“From the beginning of this year, our goal was to get the first state tournament win for our school (in lacrosse). We never thought we would make it to the finals. Our program is so new and to make it to the finals is unbelievable.”
“It’s really exciting,” said junior Allie McKay, who had a game-high nine goals. “It was a really good feeling winning in field hockey and it’s like the same feeling again.”
“It’s huge,” said coach Lynn Richardson, Polytech’s head coach in both field hockey and girls’ lacrosse. “It (the program) is still in its infancy a little bit. It’s just neat to see these kids have three years in a row of going to the state tournament.
“Then getting over the hurdle, getting that first (tournament) win ... to make it to the state finals is awesome.”
Facing a St. Mark’s squad that was playing its second tourney game in two days, Polytech only fell behind twice in the opening minutes. But, trailing 2-1, the Panthers netted four straight goals and never looked back.
Polytech led 10-3 at halftime. Then, after the Spartans closed to within 10-5 in the second half, the Panthers reeled off five straight goals to open up a double-digit advantage.
Polytech finished things off by tallying the game’s final six goals.
“This is the best game we’ve played all season,” said Trabaudo. “We were just connecting with each other. We knew where each other were and our defense was unbelievable.
“When we play fast, we play better, that’s what our coach always says. Sometimes in the first half we were a little slow. ... Once we start playing fast and we were seeing where each other are on the field, that makes it 10 times better.”
“I thought we all played really well together,” McKay agreed.
With her nine goals on Thursday, McKay now has 101 for the season. Her little sister, freshman Maddie McKay, added four goals for Polytech while Katie Richardson had two goals and three assists and Camryn Dennis scored one.
Freshman goalie Shannon Stephan made seven saves, including a couple big stops just before halftime. The Panthers outshot St. Mark’s, 36-15.
As much fun as it was making some more history in the semifinals, history won’t be on Polytech’s side in the state championship game.
The Panthers have never beaten Cape in girls’ lacrosse, falling to the Vikings, 19-9, on April 29. For that matter, Polytech also lost to Cape, 3-1, in the field hockey state title game in November.
But the Panthers say none of that will stop them from putting everything they have into trying to beat the Vikings on Tuesday.
“When they started scoring in the Cape (lacrosse) game, we just gave up the win,” said Trabaudo. “Knowing that it’s a state final and our potential, we just have to keep going and play our hardest.
“It’s almost exactly the same girls. We’re friends with a ton of them. Playing them for a second state championship is pretty crazy. We definitely don’t want to feel how we felt after hockey because that was rough.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.