Smyrna fends off Cape

Shannon Timmons Headlines, Sports

Smyrna Eagles field hockey Janna Fretz takes a shot, photo courtesy of Smyrna Field Hockey Facebook

These two teams saw each other just a little less than a year ago in the Division 1 State Field Hockey Championship game where Smyrna bested the Vikings 2-1 in overtime. The two went head to head in Henlopen North action last night. The Smyrna Eagles, Coached by Loveita Moffett and the Cape Henlopen Vikings coached by Kate Austin sent their teams into battle at Champions Stadium in Lewes on a sun drenched field for a 6:05 pm start. Both teams have been off to a great start this season giving up . 5 (CH) and .7 (Smyrna) goals per game on average. 

In the first quarter Smyrna took possession early, they calmly and methodically moved the ball into the circle within a minute of play. With a pile of players in front of the cage, the ball hit off defender Devon DeGregory’s leg forcing the first corner of the night for Smyrna. Inserter Bree Moffett sent the ball to Ava Pierce and with one swing, the defending state champs were on the board 1–0 at the 13:55 mark. The Eagles made quick work of jumping out in front of the Vikings after just 1 minute and 45 seconds. 

The Vikings tried to get their offense started but struggled early in the quarter to find the circle. At the 9:39 mark, Addison Basile drew a corner for Cape. Devon DeGregory (Salisbury commit) inserted the ball to the top of the circle but McKenna Wilson stopped Cape’s threat of scoring. Basile made several attempts to drive down the baseline and send the ball to the front of the cage but her efforts could not be capitalized on. The Smyrna defense wreaked havoc on the Vikings offensive drives causing loss of possession and forced turnovers. 

The Vikings did not disappoint. Grace Wiggins sent the ball to Addison Basile on the baseline to create a second corner for Cape but Smyrna’s goalkeeper Halle Geiger (Drexel commit) denied Cape’s shot. At the 8:06 mark Cape worked for another corner and this time Hannah Maney (Iowa commit) had her shot blocked. At the 6 minute mark Lulu Rishko drove to the baseline, ball off Smyrna stick out of play set up Addison Basile to drive and shoot, but Geiger denied her too. At the 4:20 mark, Rishko created another corner opportunity for the Vikings and despite the offensive attack no one could find the back of the cage.

It took the Cape Vikings just under three minutes to create three more offensive opportunities. At the 10:42 mark, the third corner in a row, DeGregory inserted the ball to Hannah Maney at the top of the circle, she passed to Grace Wiggins who deflected to Devon DeGregory who found the back of the cage, tying the game 1-1. 6:51 left to play in the quarter Smyrna tried to break the tie but Cape’s goalie Mogan Newcomb made a great save. The rest of the quarter played out with scoring chances coming off corners for both teams. The defense and goalies shut down all efforts to score, sending the game into the fourth quarter tied 1-1. 

Cape came out aggressive, with Grace Wiggins in the circle twice and Hannah Maney with a shot blocked after just about 3 minutes. For the next two minutes both teams would battle for possession within the 25 yard lines until Dru Moffett (S) drove into the circle and took a reverse shot that was blocked but created a penalty stroke. Dru, the older Moffett sister, (Bree, little sister to Dru also plays for the Eagles) was chosen to take the stroke. At the 11 minute mark Smyrna took the lead 2-1 off the penalty stroke and never looked back. Despite several more shots on goal, Cape just couldn’t get around goalkeeper Geiger. The game ended with time running out on a Cape corner that was well defended by the Eagles to secure the win. 

Dru Moffett, a Michigan commit, said after the game she is just “ honored to be the one selected in that moment to take the penalty stroke shot.” She takes a lot of pride in representing the team. When asked how she felt stepping to the line Dru said she was “quite comfortable actually because she has worked on this shot and put the time in to trust her ability to score.”

Halle Geiger, goalkeeper and commit, was selected as the Delaware Live – 302 Sports Player of the Game. Halle had 14 saves allowing just 1 goal and faced the Vikings for 19 total shots on goal, 14 penalty corners. She thanked Addison Beamer, Ryann Durnall and Janna Fretz for dropping back on defense, communicating with her and organizing as a defense. She said “what makes it work is that they trust each other so much.”

Coach Loveita Moffett was soaking in the win when we spoke. She said she doesn’t always celebrate in the moment because she’s such a competitor, but she was happy with her team’s performance tonight. Of course she will watch video and pick apart the game because her philosophy is “to get 1% better and have a higher hockey IQ than the opponent they are facing on any given day.” She was a proud coach and mom tonight as both of  her daughters, Dru and Bree, play for the Eagles, but wanted to recognize right back Janna Fretz, center back Ryann Durnall, and goalkeeper Halle Geiger for their leadership tonight. 

Smyrna will remain undefeated at 3-0 and prepare for CR at home Sept. 19, senior night and Delmar home Sept. 2.

Cape Henlopen (3-1) will regroup to face Polytech Sept. 19 and Padua Sept. 22, both away.

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