DOVER – Gabby Riley scored three times, and that was more than enough for her Middletown Cavaliers girls soccer team, who went on to a 4-2 victory over Appoquinimink in the DIAA Division I state championship match on Friday night at Delaware State University. It was the second title for the Cavs, who also won in 2017.
Middletown, the top seed, took down district rival Appo, who was the second seed. They finished the season 15-2-1, including a 1-0 win over the Jaguars in overtime on May 3.
The Jaguars scored first in front of a large crowd at Alumni Stadium on a comfortable night. In the 25th minute, Sydney Donovan let go of a seed from about 30 yards, finding the upper 90 that was out of reach of Middletown keeper Ava Ripanti.
It didn’t take long for the Cavaliers to equalize, and Lily Holcroft’s goal in the 27th got them going. Holcroft took advantage of a corner kick, getting a shot past Jags goalkeeper Isabella Mazzone.
Both teams played plenty of low-scoring games throughout the 2023 season, but this would not be one of them. In fact, Middletown needed just two more minutes to take the lead. Riley got her first, sending a left-footed shot into the far side. It was more Riley in the 33rd, and again hitting the far post on the other side to make it 3-1.
The Cavaliers’ defense kept the Jaguars away from Ripanti for the rest of the first half, but they had some opportunities in the second on corner kicks. A shot early on hit the underside of the crossbar but stayed out, and the Cavs breathed a sigh of relief. Ten minutes after that, however, another Appo corner was directed off the head of Josie Parson and under the crossbar, cutting the deficit to one.
But Middletown was determined to keep the Jaguars out of the middle of the field in front of Ripanti. They limited the Jags’ chances, and Riley added some insurance in the 72nd, getting her hat trick. Appoquinimink was not able to threaten again.
Appo ended up 14-4 overall, reaching its first final.
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