WILMINGTON – Padua opened its final regular-season gameWednesday afternoon with Karlee Panella where she has been for years – in the starting lineup. But the Pandas’ forward stayed in the match vs. St. Mark’s for just 15 seconds after suffering a knee injury in the team’s game Monday vs. Charter.
With her right leg in a brace, Panella was able to take the field briefly on Senior Day at Baynard Stadium. St. Mark’s gave the opening tap to Panella, who passed it to a teammate, who kicked the ball out of bounds. With that, an emotional Panella left the field to applause and hugs. After that, Padua showed it will be a force in the state playoffs no matter who is on the pitch, as the top-seeded team in Delaware waged a relentless offensive onslaught in an 8-1 win over the Spartans.
Sophomore Lindsay Machamer notched a hat trick for the Pandas, who finished the regular season with a 14-0-1 record.
Padua peppered Spartans keeper Heather Swain all day long, and Swain made several impressive saves. But she could only do so much against an offense that sent 23 shots on goal and many more that missed high or wide. Padua also had four corner kicks, while St. Mark’s had none.
Padua needed little time to get going on Wednesday. Mackenzie Scully opened the scoring in the 11th minute, taking a pass from the Pandas’ only other senior, Kylie Puican, to the right of Swain. She buried it high. Arryana Daniels increased the lead to 2-0 in the 20th, weaving through the Spartans’ defense before sending one high to the keeper’s left.
Puican had one more assist in the first half, sending a long outlet pass to Machamer streaking down the right side. Machamer found the long side of the net, and Padua led, 3-0, at the intermission.
After Ashlee Brentlinger scored from Daniels to make it 4-0 a few minutes into the second, the teams played back-and-forth soccer for 20 minutes. St. Mark’s avoided the shutout when Cassandra Neubauer beat keeper Katie Szczerba in the 68th minute unassisted, but the scoring was far from done.
Padua managed four goals in the final 11 minutes. Machamer scored the first two, with Brentlinger and Sarah Brush picking up the assists. Brush scored an unassisted tally in the 77th minute, and Meg Mallon ended the scoring by tapping in a pass from Anne Brush in the final two minutes.
Padua will play Concord on May 20 or 21 at a site and time to be announced. St. Mark’s, which did not make the postseason, finished its campaign with a 7-8 mark.