Matthew Dina picked a nice time to score the first goal of his high school career.
The sophomore converted a slick pass from teammate Sam Jester in the 33rd minute, and the Appoquinimink defense made it stand up for a 1-0 home victory over Charter of Wilmington in boys soccer action on Thursday.
Two of the top teams in Division I displayed plenty of defense in the Blue Hen Flight A showdown, as they combined for only nine shots. The fourth-ranked Jaguars improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference, while the second-ranked Force slipped to 3-1 and 2-1.
“He’s been a defender his entire career,” Appo coach Adam Bear said of Dina. “We kind of moved him up a little bit, and he made an amazing run and was able to put a goal away for us.”
Jester set it up with a spin move that opened a window for a short pass.
“I just turned off of him, and I saw Dina through a split,” Jester said. “He doesn’t really get forward that much, so I had to feed him. He finished.”
Dina took the ball in full stride, only to see Charter goalkeeper Sam Kwiatkowski charge out and stop his shot. But the rebound came straight back to Dina, and he didn’t miss.
“Sam is really good at doing those type of passes,” Dina said. “I ran on to it and took it down the line.
“When I shot with my left, it hit the goalkeeper. But then I finished it with my left. I was happy that it came back to me.”
The Force took it to the Jaguars’ defense in the second half but couldn’t get one through. Charter had numerous throw-ins, free kicks and corner kicks, but Appo always got a foot or head on the ball to clear it out of danger.
“We battled. We just couldn’t put the ball in the net tonight. That was the toughest part,” Charter coach Jon Gillespie said. “They really did a good job of bottling things up when we got to the attacking third.
“The ball just didn’t really sit right. Some of our passes, the ball just didn’t go where it was supposed to go with some of our guys, and that was a little frustrating.”
Charter’s best chance came in the 73rd minute, when Jim Connolly settled a long pass and found a narrow opening. But his 12-yard screamer sailed just high and left of the net.
“We kept our shape. We kept them in front of us,” Bear said of his defense. “We weren’t giving up any breakaways or any shots too close.”