BEAR – For the first 60 minutes of Saturday’s girls soccer state tournament quarterfinal matchup against Wilmington Friends, Padua Academy controlled the pace of play and had the better scoring opportunities. But as shot after shot missed wide or high, or was turned away, it would be understood if the Pandas started thinking when – or if – they would finally score.
Those thoughts were put to rest in the 61st minute, when Karlina Panella’s shot from 30 yards out curled out of the reach of Friends goalkeeper Eleni Kalaitzoglou and inside the right post, giving the second-seeded Pandas a lead they would not relinquish in a 2-0 shutout at Caravel Academy. Padua, the defending state champion, will meet No. 3 Caesar Rodney on Wednesday night in one state semifinal. The Riders defeated Archmere, 4-0, in a quarterfinal game at Dover High School.
Panella, a sophomore, put the game out of reach with her second goal of the game in the 74th minute.
Padua (15-1-1) controlled the game from the outset, keeping the ball in their offensive zone for much of the first half. They had chances throughout the half, the first coming on a free kick in the third minute. Regan Lehman curved a shot around the Quakers’ wall, but Kalaitzoglou made the easy save. After a few more opportunities, the Pandas earned their first corner kick in the 21st minute. The resulting shot, however, was just high, hitting the crossbar of the football goal posts. Thirty seconds later, a long attempt by Padua also hit the football crossbar. It would happen twice more on the night.
Padua’s best shot in the first half came in the last minute when Panella broke free from the defense. Kalaitzoglou came out to cut down the angle, taking the shot in the upper body.
Friends (11-5-1) had its best sustained offense at the outset of the second half, but the Pandas were firmly in charge. One pass into the crease went through the legs of Jessica Marini and over the end line, while Kalaitzoglou made a clutch save on a shot by Taylor Schoenbeck. Finally, Panella found the net on her bending shot to give her team the lead.
Her second goal came when a clearing attempt by Friends was intercepted at midfield by Lehman. With Panella streaking toward the goal, Lehman’s pass bounced high off the turf and off the head of a Quakers defender. Panella got behind her opponent and found the open net.
Padua’s Abigail Boudart had three saves to earn the shutout.
Padua and Caesar Rodney (16-1) will meet Wednesday at Smyrna High School at 8 p.m. Thus far in the state tournament, the Riders have eliminated St. Mark’s and Archmere. They will look to knock out the lone remaining Catholic school on Wednesday.
The other semifinal will pit top-ranked Charter School of Wilmington vs. No. 4 Sussex Tech at 6 p.m., also at Smyrna. Charter took care of A.I. DuPont, 3-0, while Tech defeated Caravel, 1-0.