Last season, Archmere kept the state championship trophy in the Catholic high school sorority with a thrilling win over Wilmington Charter in the finale, but the competition for the top spot continues to get tighter and more intense. The Catholic schools again will field very strong squads, but they will be getting stiff challenges from powerhouse Delaware Military Academy, Wilmington Friends and others.
Coach Mary Pat Kwoka’s Auks returned the championship trophy to Archmere after an 11-4 regular season and a solid playoff run. They stormed back from a 2-0 deficit in the semifinals to stun undefeated DMA, then overpowered once-beaten Wilmington Charter in the final. But six seniors are gone from that squad, presenting a challenge for Kwoka and her staff.
“It was fun, it was exciting, and we were thankful for last year, but it’s about right here, right now. Kids are working real hard, a lot of focus. We’ve just got to be a team,” the coach said.
Archmere will be steady on defense, where seniors Tori Falasco (254 digs) and Sami Mengers (166 digs) return. Offensively, Zoe Akoto (114 kills) will be receiving sets from a pair of juniors, Kaylie Leclerc and Tori Mock.
“Last year with the postseason, it was a really great and exciting experience, but it’s a new year,” said Akoto, who delivered the championship-winning kill. “I think we’re starting from the same place we started last year, coming together as a new team with a lot of new players. We’re learning to flow together the same way we did last year to build ourselves up to hopefully get to the same place.”
Archmere, members of the Diamond State Athletic Conference, have a loaded schedule that includes its opener on the road at Appoquinimink, a contender for the Blue Hen Conference Flight A crown. The Auks also have quality opponents in Newark Charter, Wilmington Christian and the other Catholic schools before closing on Halloween at Tower Hill.
“We’ve got 15 difficult matches, and we’ve got to be ready for each one of them. There’s not going to be any easy nights,” Kwoka said.
The message from the coaching staff has been to focus “on being in the moment,” Akoto said. “We can’t really live in the past. We can’t let our success from last year prevent us from achieving as much as we can this year.”
Friday, Sept. 11: at Appoquinimink, 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 15: Newark Charter, 6:15 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 18: Wilmington Christian, 6:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 22: at Polytech, 5 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 24: at Concord, 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 29: at St. Mark’s, 7:15 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 2: Wilmington Charter, 6:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 6: at Delaware Military, 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 10: at Ursuline, 7:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 13: St. Elizabeth, 6:15 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 15: Conrad, 6:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 20: Wilmington Friends, 6:15 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23: Padua, 6:15 p.m. (Homecoming)
Thursday, Oct. 29: A.I. DuPont, 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 31: at Tower Hill, 12:15 p.m.