Sussex Academy wins first soccer state championship

Nick Halliday Headlines, High Schools, Sports

DOVER – It was a day to remember at Dover High School on the afternoon of Nov. 18, as Sussex Academy made a little bit of history. The Seahawks outlasted Saint Mark’s, 5-4, in penalty kicks for the DIAA Division II boys championship. It was the first team championship in school history.

No. 1 Sussex Academy trailed No. 6 Saint Mark’s, 1-0, for nearly all of the DIAA Division II boys soccer championship game. The Seahawks owned possession for most of the second half, but they were unable to penetrate the Spartans’ defense and get anything on goalkeeper Ryan Betts. Finally, in the 74th minute, they got the break they needed.

A foul in the 18-yard box gave Sussex Academy a penalty kick, and Andree Mendoza fired it into the left side of the net to knot the score, 1-1. Neither team could get anything into the net in the final minutes, and the game headed to overtime.

Each team had one corner kick in the first overtime, but to no avail. The Spartans had the best opportunity to end it in the second overtime as a handball in the 18-yard box gave them a penalty kick. Thomas Stanley stepped up to the ball and fired low to the left of Seahawks keeper Carter Norton, but he guessed correctly and knocked the shot away. Saint Mark’s got a resulting corner kick but could not capitalize.

The Spartans had a few more chances before the second overtime ended, but they could not score, and the teams went to penalty kicks. The teams traded goals before Norton made the stop that would give Sussex Academy the opening it needed. The kicker, Dan Otlowski, had scored the Spartans’ lone goal on a penalty kick in the 14th minute, and perhaps Norton remembered where he had gone that time. He went to his right and rejected the shot.

Aiden Villar scored for the Seahawks to give them a 2-1 advantage. The score was tied, 4-4, as George Sapna approached the line for the final kick. He drilled it into the net, turned around to face his teammates and knelt on the turf with his hands raised.

Sussex Academy finished the season 16-2. Saint Mark’s ended with a record of 12-6-1.

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