A year after going scoreless in a shocking finals loss, Padua scored three goals in four minutes wrapping around halftime to rally past Caesar Rodney 5-1 and win the 2018 DIAA D1 Girls Soccer Championship.
For about 38 minutes, the script seemed eerily similar to last year’s Middletown upset of the Pandas. Caesar Rodney claimed a lead in the 3rd minute when Laynee Ford deflected home a Jessie Prillaman header off a Megan Powers corner kick to put the Riders ahead.
Padua responded strongly, consistently attacking the Riders’ net, but as the clock froze at 2:00 to allow the official time to be kept on the field, Padua doubled up on what they couldn’t do a year ago.
A failed Caesar Rodney clear came to the foot of Rachel Simpson at the left corner of the penalty box, and she drove a shot that took a rising deflection of a CR defender, wrong-footing the keeper and putting Padua back in the game at 1-1.
Not content to take a tie into the locker room, Ashlee Brentlinger dribbled down to the end line at the left of the goal, and chipped a backwards cross to the forehead of Erin Apostolico, who passed right to Olivia Bocchetti for a brilliant finish, turning a possible halftime deficit into a halftime lead.
That momentum carried over, as Brianna Hallo took a free kick 25 yards from goal, and sliced a shot over the keepers’ fingers but under the crossbar to put the Pandas up 3-1.
Despite several brilliant saves by CR keeper Morgan Desaulniers (she had 11 in the match), the Pandas would convert a penalty kick by Brentlinger in the 66th minute, and Hallo picked up a second goal in the 72nd to finish the scoring, and claim Padua’s 9th state soccer title.
Padua outshot CR 25-8 in the contest, including 15-3 on-target. Padua had the last 11 shots on goal in the game.