and Jason Winchell
WILMINGTON – Scott Mosier surveyed the practice field in mid-August and thought about some decisions he’d have to make in a few days. Who among the 60 or so players who was trying out for the Salesianum varsity and junior varsity soccer program would make the roster?
With all that talent on the field, plus another 60 in the freshman program, it’s a problem Mosier and his staff are happy to have. The returning talent from last year, plus the usual infusion of skill, has the Sals among the top 20 high school teams in the country and atop Delaware’s preseason rankings.
“We have a really deep group of high-level soccer players. It should be a fun year,” the coach said.
The Sals will be chasing their sixth straight state championship and 11th in the last 12 years beginning Saturday with a 5:30 p.m. meeting with Sussex Tech at Dover High School. Last season, with a completely new starting lineup from 2013, Salesianum, the fifth seed in the playoffs, overtook three higher seeds to claim the title.
Gavin Ford, who scored the championship-clinching goal last year as a freshman, returns. He had five goals last season. His classmate, Bryce Wallace, added three goals and an assist. Mosier said fans should also keep an eye on senior Stefan Bobiak and a quartet of juniors — Jason Blackwell, Cole Bouchard, Brian Hartmann and Aidan Kelly.
One reason for the Sals’ success, Mosier said, is that his starters are coming to the school to prepare for college soccer. He and his staff must balance their commitment to winning with that of developing individual players to succeed at the next level.
“All of our starters … their goal is to play in college,” he said. “One of the reasons they’re working so hard in the program here is to prepare them to go to college.”
Salesianum will be well tested by the time the postseason rolls around. The team is playing its usual difficult schedule, beginning Sept 12 at Sussex Tech. They travel to Kentucky for two games and will be at St. Benedict’s (N.J.) on Oct. 10. The home schedule includes an Oct. 13 meeting with Washington Township (N.J.), the New Jersey large-school champion last season.
Mosier wants to challenge his players with the best competition he can schedule, in part because he wants the Sals to take home a national title. St. Benedict’s is the preseason No. 1 team in the country, according to one poll, which has the Sals 17th.
“We’d love a national championship here. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that,” he said. The talent, he said, is there, and the Sals could reach this goal in the next few years “if a couple balls bounce our way.”
Saturday, Sept. 12: vs. Sussex Tech, 5:30 p.m. (DAAD Tournament at Dover High School)
Tuesday, Sept. 15: at Caravel, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 17: at St. Xavier (Ky.), 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 19: at Trinity (Ky.), 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 22: at Indian River, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 24: at Wilmington Charter, 3:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 29: St. Elizabeth, 4 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 5: Kingsway (N.J.), 4 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 10: at St. Benedict (N.J.), 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 13: Washington Township (N.J.), 7 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 15: at St. Mark’s, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17: Appoquinimink, 1 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 20: Middletown, 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 23: at Milton Wright (Md.), 5:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 27: Archmere, 3:45 p.m. (Senior Night)