SMYRNA — A promising start gradually transitioned into the season slipping away.
Despite two early goals that raised hopes, Caesar Rodney High couldn’t keep up with Charter School of Wilmington during a 5-2 ouster in the DIAA Division I Boys Soccer Tournament quarterfinals on a chilly Saturday night in northern Kent County.
Somber looking CR captains Thomas Galucci, Christopher McPoyle, and Joshua Bennett walked slowly off the Charles V. Williams Stadium turf together, knowing there were no do-overs on several missed scoring opportunities and defensive lapses their team had endured.
“Charter is a good team and we gave it all we had,” Bennett said.
“We had some mistakes that we put onto ourselves and they jumped on them.”
It didn’t start out that way, though.
In the opening two minutes, Bennett fought for position after Thomas McPoyle sent the ball his way and rammed home a goal from 15 yards out for a quick 1-0 CR advantage.
Charter (13-3) scored on its next possession for a deadlock, and added another goal less than four minutes later for a 2-1 lead with 33:45 left before intermission.
The Riders (11-5) responded to the early burst, and Christopher McPoyle used some shifty footwork while maneuvering around a defender for a score and 2-2 tie after receiving the ball from Galindy Prezeau at the 30:22 mark.
Charter scored on a deflection in the middle of the field with 24 minutes remaining in the first half, and its 3-2 lead would never be matched again.
With the initial end-to-end action where the ball rarely settled in the midfield, it didn’t seem likely that the Riders would fail to score for the last 70 minutes plus. The Force continued the pace with three goals in the same stretch to pull away.
“I thought we had them, I really did,” Bennett said. “It just wasn’t our day.”
While CR coach Darrell Gravatt applauded the opening burst, “I don’t think it was our ‘A game’ effort overall.
“We had a couple long stretches where we didn’t handle ourselves well and Charter got the better of it.”
The McPoyles, Prezeau, Bennett, Galucci, and Raphael Quieroz, among others, continued to attack throughout, but never converted a third goal.
“We had some good chances and they did as well,” Gravatt said. “They converted more of their chances and that’s why they will be playing Wednesday night (in the state semifinals) and we won’t.”
Said Charter coach John Gillespie, “Defensively we had some guys playing in their first tournament atmosphere and it showed early. We weren’t as tight defensively as we could have been, which will be addressed at practice next week.
“Offensively, I thought we were efficient in the scoring opportunities we had. For the most part, we played the ball the way we hoped to and kept it moving into the right places.”
The match was delayed approximately 40 minutes near the end when a spectator reportedly went into cardiac arrest and was eventually taken from the stadium in an ambulance. No information on his condition was immediately available.
After nearly 74 minutes of fierce competition, the teams huddled together at midfield and prayed for a positive resolution to the medical emergency as the first responders arrived within less than 10 minutes of the initial call.