The word “dynasty” seems horrendously inadequate to describe the overwhelming dominance of the Salesianum boys soccer program for more than a decade.
Call it the Gold and White Age. Or better yet – the Salliesozoic Era.
Salesianum surrendered a rare early goal but only trailed for a minute before defeating Appoquinimink 5-2 to win its fourth consecutive DIAA Division I boys soccer state championship – and 10th in 12 seasons – on Saturday night at Smyrna High. The Sals’ victory snapped Appo’s 15-game winning streak.
“The numbers really kind of hit you when you think about it,” Sallies senior Mike DiSabatino said. “Before the game we had some video clips we were watching from guys from past years. They were kind of giving us advice that our coach collected from all the guys who had been part of the program, and just to see how far back this tradition goes and how it keeps on going is really special.”
Salesianum (17-0-1) entered the game ranked third in the U.S. by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and had allowed just two goals while posting 15 shutouts this season. Appoquinimink (16-2) was unranked but “also received votes,” the only other team from Delaware mentioned in the NSCAA Top 25 poll.
Yet the Jaguars were no match for the three-time defending state champs.
“Appo did a great job. They deserve a lot of credit,” Sallies coach Scott Mosier said. “They kept it close for a long time. … They really tried to make it a game.”
Appo junior midfielder Ryan Moore put the Jaguars on the board first in the 14th minute, when a bouncing free kick ricocheted off a number of his teammates’ heads in front of the goal and found its way to his foot.
Appo players rushed to the sideline to pound their chests and play to the crowd but surrendered the lead less than a minute later when Jake Meyer tucked a shot just inside the right post to knot the score at 1-1.
“We were excited, but it would have been nice if we hadn’t given one up a [minute] later,” Appo coach Adam Bear said.
Jason Durnan staked the Sals to a 2-1 lead at halftime by scoring on a feed from Meyer in the 24th minute.
“We weren’t nervous at all. We knew we would get them back,” Durnan said. “Meyer got that first one in, and the second ball, he got alone, hit it to me, a perfect ball between two players, and I just smashed it into the corner.”
DiSabatino scored in the 44th minute to put the Sallies on top 3-1 and firmly in control.
“We haven’t had a ton of adversity,” Mosier said. “We’ve played a lot of tough games and things, but we’ve done pretty well in those games. It was interesting. The one concern was if we do go down a goal, if we have some adversity, how we would respond to it. And I was really proud of the guys.”
Numerous acrobatic saves by Appo goalkeeper Chris Stilwell kept the rout from getting completely out of hand.
But Benjamin Yount piled on with another Sallies score in the 51st minute and Durnan scored again in the 71st minute for a commanding 5-1 advantage.
Sam Jester scored for Appo seconds later, but it did little to quell the horde of chanting Sallies fans.
The outcome had long been decided.
“It’s humbling to think this really isn’t your team,” Meyer said. “This is for all those guys who played in the past, all their success. It’s crazy. Ten in 12. That’s not something you can really say about other programs.”