DOVER — Emily Peets was just focused on finishing up her student teaching.
The last thing the former Delaware State lacrosse player expected was to end up as a high school head coach.
But shortly before preseason practice started, Dover High found itself needing a girls’ lacrosse coach.
The next thing she knew, Peets had the job — along with a few apprehensions.
“I was nervous,” Peets admitted. “All the girls knew each other and I was just the 22-year-old college kid coming in.
“I’ve been coaching little kids for six or seven years. But ‘varsity head coach’ was very intimidating, to be honest.”
In the end, however, things couldn’t have worked out much better for Peets and the Senators.
Dover takes a 9-5 record into today’s season finale against Mount Pleasant. The Senators host the Green Knights (8-5) at 7 p.m.
Because of its strength of schedule, Dover won’t have enough points to make the DIAA state tournament, which starts on Saturday. But the Senators’ nine victories are the most for the program since at least 2007.
And they’ve done it with a roster that includes just one senior.
That one senior, midfielder Natalie Glascock, is 18, just four years younger than Peets. Glascock, though, says the Senators are happy to have a coach that isn’t much older than them.
“I actually like that she’s closer to our age,” said Glascock. “She knows how to communicate to us. We have the same attitude she does about everything. We’re on the same level.”
“I think she’s very knowledgeable,” said sophomore midfielder Mira Prisco. “I think she’ll help build the program to where it needs to be. I think she knows how to talk to us better because she’s closer in age to us.”
Peets is actually still a student at DSU. She’ll graduate this Sunday.
Before coming to DelState, she played in a Monroe (N.Y.) Community College program that won a junior college national championship in 2011 before making the title game in ‘12. An All-NJCAA Region III second-team selection as a freshman, Peets netted 56 goals and 32 assists in her two-year career.
When she landed the Dover job, Peets made some quick calls to her coach at Monroe for advice.
“Mr. (Aaron) Harris was like, ‘Yeah, you’ve got the job,’” said Peets, referring to the Dover athletic director. “I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do now? I’ve got to start planning.’
“He (her junior college coach) was just like, ‘You just have to take it day by day. Plan out your first few practices and eventually it’s just going to come naturally. You’ll know what you want to do the next day.’ That’s how I went along doing it.”
Peets, who’s assisted by Senators’ girls’ basketball coach Katie Byrnes and former Caesar Rodney High player Patrick Berns, and Dover started the season with three straight wins.
Four of the Senators’ five losses have come against teams with winning records — Cape Henlopen, Sussex Tech, Caravel and Polytech. They led Sussex Tech, 5-4, at halftime before losing 11-7.
Dover knows it has to strengthen its schedule if it wants to make the state tourney. But with so many young players who have tasted some success, the Senators are optimistic about the future.
Now they just need Peets to land a full-time teaching job in the district so she can remain their coach.
“I would love to come back,” said Peets. “We have worked so hard as a group. I just know next year we’re going to be a team to compete with. We’ll see.”
“I think with our record, people will be more motivated,” said Prisco.
For Glascock, finishing her career with a winning season has meant a lot. The senior — who plans to continue her career at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy — has been around the program since she was a youngster.
Getting a 10th victory today would just be the icing on the cake.
“This is probably the best I’ve seen it in a long time,” Glascock said about the program. “I’m glad to be a part of it. This is my fourth year and we’ve never had this kind of record.
“I knew we were going to have a great season — there’s great girls, great coaches. But this is more than I expected.”