Despite heading into the Division I DIAA Girls Soccer State Championship Game as the No. 1 seed, Middletown still felt like the underdog Saturday afternoon against the five-time defending state champions, Padua Academy.
Undeterred, a confident Lady Cavaliers team took the field at Smyrna High and pulled off a 1-0 upset to claim the 2017 Division I title.
Alexa Rodriguez scored the game’s only goal in the 13th minute of the opening half of the game. Middletown’s defense and goalkeeping took care of the rest.
Padua appeared to tie the game several times throughout the game, having four goals disallowed, many on offsides calls.
One of those disallowed goals created a defining moment in the game when Middletown’s starting goalkeeper Taylor Wolfe was injured in a collision in front of the net while attempting a save.
That prompted a goalie change as backup Mary Warren came into the game to help protect the 1-0 advantage.
With a steady and competitive defense in front of her, Warren played up to the moment making 10 huge saves on a Padua team that was buzzing throughout the second half.
“I used to play keeper so, I was a little rusty because I hadn’t played in a longtime,” Warren said. “I’m just so grateful for my that held the line and prevented them from coming too close.”
Not only did the Lady Cavaliers take the title away from the Pandas after five straight seasons, but they became the first Delaware opponent to shut out Padua since the 2013 season. It’s also the first time Middletown has defeated Padua since 2005.
Saturday night’s contest was a lot more intense than the 1-0 score might indicate. Both teams were exhausted by the end, with several players from both sides exiting the game with cramps.
For Middletown, it’s the culmination of years of hard work - and it may be only the beginning for this standout program.
“The adversity these girls have faced all year long and the response to that has just been legend making,” said Middletown Head Coach Brian Derrickson. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve been injured, hurt, tired, everything you can think of as a player. To win this championships is something they’ll never forget.”
“We’ve come full-circle, we’re going to enjoy this and be here again," he said.