CR bests Indian River in Henlopen soccer championship match

MILFORD – For the Caesar Rodney girls’ soccer team, three was the magic number.

Playing in a rematch of last year’s Henlopen Conference championship game with Indian River Friday evening, the Riders needed three goals for the repeat title. Senior Aleya Cummings, wearing No. 3, scored them all.

“It means a lot, but my team helped me do it,” said Cummings, whose goal in the 58th minute led to the 3-2 final score. “So, it’s their hat trick.”

CR defeated Indian River 3-2 Friday night to capture its second straight conference crown. (Sussex County Post/Jeff Mitchell)

CR defeated Indian River 3-2 Friday night to capture its second straight conference crown. (Sussex County Post/Jeff Mitchell)

On the eventual game-winning goal, it was freshman Jessie Prillaman who helped Cummings.

With the ball at midfield on the Milford High turf, Prillaman played it through the Indian River defense on the ground and Cummings made the most of the opportunity to break the 2-2 tie.

“She just saw the seam and I made the run and put it in,” Cummings said of the winner. “She’s a great freshman. We’re lucky to have her.”

Caesar Rodney (15-1) is lucky to have Cummings as well, coach Darrel Gravatt said.

“She’s a prolific scorer,” said the coach. “There’s none better. She just keeps getting it done.”

Although the Riders didn’t score again over the final 22 minutes, they didn’t allow Indian River many opportunities to attempt an equalizer. Other than a last minute Aline Check-Guzman shot that went wide left, the Indians’ few scoring chances came from free kicks.

Outside of those, CR mostly maintained possession.

“I thought we got better throughout the game,” Gravatt said. “We subbed fairly regularly, and I think our depth showed itself in the second half. Our backline held up. Captain Haley Prillaman had a great game. There was just tremendous play all over the field.”

Scoring came a lot more often in the first half than the second.

IR (14-2) scored first when senior Brooke Beam beat two Riders defenders on the right side of the field then hit Madison Hogsten with a lateral pass in front of goal that the junior knocked into the net.

Thirty seconds later, however, Caesar Rodney tied the game on Cummings’ first goal, which also came off a Jessie Prillaman assist.

Cummings gave her team a 2-1 lead in the 20th minute with a penalty kick goal that IR keeper Brea McCray got a hand on but couldn’t knock down completely. But the Indians were able to tie the game heading into the half when Beam found sophomore Samantha Whelen with a pass and the latter scored.

“We take it as big plus for us to compete with a team of this quality,” Indian River coach Steve Kilby said. “They are ranked regionally, and with a little bit of luck maybe we win tonight.”

Both teams will play again next week in their respective state tournaments – CR in Division I, IR in D-II.

The second-seeded Riders already know their opponent will be Dover, but the No. 1 Indians will have to wait to see which team wins Saturday’s scheduled first round game between Tower Hill and Woodbridge.

Each is anxious to begin working toward a possible state championship.

“This was a great team, so we’ll take this momentum and move onto the tournament with it,” Cummings said.

“That’s what the focus is now,” Kilby said of the tournament. “This group has an incredible opportunity before them.”

From the Sussex County Sports Desk

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