The Salesianum lacrosse team wrote its name into the record book in bold-face, all-capital letters Saturday.
The Sals dominated from start to finish and became the first team to win three straight DIAA Boys Lacrosse State Tournament championships with an 18-4 victory over Caesar Rodney at Appoquinimink High.
“I’m very proud of all of our guys and what they’ve done today,” Sallies coach Bob Healy said. “It’s a very difficult thing. Everybody thinks that this is easy to do. It’s very difficult. It’s all of the guys, their hard work and commitment to the program that did this.”
The Sals just made it look easy. Senior Sean Giampietro started the onslaught with a goal just 37 seconds into the game. He weaved through the Riders’ defense to find the net again 52 seconds later.
“We came out fired up, so running in and getting the first two goals was just how I wanted to start it,” Giampietro said. “I was fired up and ready to play.”
Junior Troy Reeder scored over two defenders and senior Craig Zebrowski sprinted around the net and jammed the ball into the cage to give the Sals a 4-0 lead after one quarter.
Zebrowski fed junior Jason Kelly for the first of his game-high five goals to start the second quarter. CR got on the board when Luke Rankin converted Nick Gruwell’s sharp pass, but the Sals were just getting started.
Kelly picked up a loose ball behind the net and scored, then hit a cutting Zebrowski for another goal. Defender Chase Cowan passed to Kelly for a fast-break score. Reeder scored while rumbling to his left. Then goalie Ryan Kern made one of his five saves and started another fast break that led to Reeder’s goal and a 10-1 Sallies lead with 5.7 seconds left in the half.
“We did a great job picking up ground balls, and Colby Reeder, a freshman, did an outstanding job on faceoffs all day long,” Healy said. “I think he was a big factor in our success with possession of the ball.”
The Sals also clamped down on defense and outshot CR, 45-19. Healy and Sallies’ players credited assistant coach Shawn Plews for masterminding a defense that allowed only 75 goals in 19 games (3.9 per game) this season.
“Everywhere is pressure,” Giampietro said. “Coach Plews is forcing out everywhere. His ball pressure is the key at this level. When you’re always on someone’s hands, they’re going to make a mistake. And we capitalize off other teams’ mistakes.”
The Sals finished 17-2, with their only losses coming to Malvern Prep (Pa.) and St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School (Va.). They have won 39 straight against Delaware opponents, with the last loss coming to Tower Hill in the 2010 state championship game.
Caesar Rodney (15-4) knocked off Delmar, Polytech and Cape Henlopen to reach the title game as the tournament’s No. 6 seed. The Riders, a proud program with three state titles, also lost to the Sals in last year’s final.
“I’m proud of the season we’ve had,” CR coach Drew Hughes said. “Today hurts. It stinks. When you put as much effort into your program as these kids do, any loss hurts. But looking back on what we’ve accomplished as a whole, it’s hard to have perspective in the moment, but I’m sure in a couple of days we’ll be able to appreciate everything we put together this season.”