NEWARK – Salesianum was the stronger team in the first half of a midseason test between the top two boys’ soccer teams in Division I with host Appoquinimink, taking a two-goal lead into halftime.
The Jaguars were the more assertive team in the second half, scoring midway through the half, but Sallies made a schematic adjustment in the final minutes to hold off Appoquinimink for a 2-1 victory Saturday.
“Not really a statement, but a good evaluation for our guys that if we don’t play our best and the play we’re playing against plays with a lot energy like Appo did, we could be beat by anybody,” Salesianum head coach Scott Mosier said. “We’ve been coasting along a little bit, and it was good to play an intense game. It was good by Appo to give us a game. They played really well.”
The top-ranked Sallies (9-1-1) controlled the ball from the start, playing on the second-ranked Jaguars’ side of the field, and that led a corner kick in the eighth minute. After James Strine received a short pass from the corner, he crossed it Jack Hartmann, who rocketed a shot from 20 yards out into the net to give Salesianum a 1-0 lead.
It took Sallies 24 minutes to get on the board again with this goal coming on the counter. After Salesianum won the ball, Jason Blackwell played the ball wide to Gavin Ford, and Ford and Jack Leonard passed to each other a couple of times before Leonard scored by going to the far side of the net to double its advantage.
“I thought we were pretty busy. We were passing and moving and getting it back, creating opportunities for us. Some were finished, and some weren’t,” Leonard said of Salesianum’s strong first half. “If we played that way the whole game, the outcome would have been different.”
After Appoquinimink (9-1) made a couple of changes with its lineup for the second half, it played with a more energy, leading to improved play, and the Jaguars capitalized on it in the 58th on a Joe Scarpinato goal to make it 2-1.
“We changed a few players’ positions, but we didn’t make too many adjustments. We just played with a little more confidence,” Appoquinimink head coach Adam Bear said. “It wasn’t effort. We played with confidence, and we were able to create more opportunities in the second half.”
The Jaguars continued to push the action after Scarpinato’s goal, but Sallies played a defensive scheme to prevent Appoquinimink from getting quality chances, which proved to be successful as they did not allow a goal and hold on for the win.