Appoquinimink’s Samuel Jester (10) runs past a cheering student section after scoring an insurance goal in the second half of the Jaguars’ 2-0 win at Appoquinimink, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014.
MIDDLETOWN – Appoquinimink has been the top-ranked team in Division I boys soccer all season. But senior Sam Jester believed the Jaguars could never really be No. 1 until they beat Salesianum.
Jester helped Appo cement the top spot on Tuesday night, scoring in the 68th minute to send the home fans into a frenzy and push the Jaguars to a 2-0 victory over the third-ranked Sals.
Salesianum (3-3-2) graduated every starter from last year’s team, which capped the Sals’ 10th state title in 12 years with a 5-2 victory over Appo in the D-I championship game. The Jaguars returned almost all of that team, and they remembered what happened last time.
“It doesn’t matter what their record is,” Jester said. “It doesn’t matter who they beat and who they lost to. It doesn’t matter who graduated. It doesn’t matter who came in. That is the best team, and that’s who you have to beat to be the best. … If you beat them, that solidifies it for us.”
Appo (12-0) had the best of it from start to finish, outshooting the Sals 10-5. The Jaguars’ first goal came off a corner kick in the ninth minute. Ryan Moore sent it to Matt Dina at the far post, and the junior fired it back to Lance Ksiazek at the near post for an easy finish.
“I always stay at the front post for those,” Ksiazek said. “Just lucky I found the ball and put it in this time.”
It was exactly the kind of start the Jaguars needed.
“We’ve done a great job on set pieces this year,” Appo coach Adam Bear said. “We’re probably up to around 10 goals off set pieces and corner kicks, so we’re pleased with that. We’re a big team, a physical team, and we do a good job crashing the net.”
It stayed that way until Jaylen Dunham slid a pass to Jester in the 68th minute, leaving the talented senior just one man to beat. He took his time, assessed his options and went low and left for the goal.
“I was thinking, ‘Do I go at him? Do I cut in? Do I just go on my left?'” Jester said. “I just slowed down and noticed I was at the 18 and the keeper was standing on the 6. That’s one of the biggest chances you’re going to get in a game like that against them, so I just took it.”
The Jaguars won for the fourth time in seven days, and now must stay sharp for another home game against A.I. du Pont on Thursday.
“We’ve had the target on our back the whole season when we started out No. 1,” Ksiazek said. “Sallies was just another game, that’s it. The atmosphere was better, but we just saw it as another game we needed to win.”
It was more than just another one for Jester.
“That was a big goal,” he said. “But it’s just a stop on the way to an undefeated season and hopefully a state championship.”
Sallies was coming off a 1-0, double-overtime loss to national power St. Benedict’s Prep (New Jersey) on Saturday night. The Sals haven’t lost three games in a season since 2010, when they were 8-5 at one point before winning six straight and taking another state title. Sallies has four games left until this year’s tournament begins on Nov. 8.
“It’s been a rough road,” Sals coach Scott Mosier said. “We can only go one of two ways. We can either stay down and sulk and be concerned that we’re 3-3-2. But my guess is with the character of this team and how they’ve rebounded from losses and setbacks, my hope is that tomorrow we’ll show up with eagerness to get better.”
Contact Brad Myers at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ