DOVER — Salesianum completed one of its best seasons in recent memory on Nov. 16, shutting out Caesar Rodney, 7-0, to win the DIAA Division I state soccer tournament. And that’s saying something, considering that the Sals earned their 10th consecutive title and 19th overall.
When the final whistle sounded, the Sals donned shirts that said “10-peat” on the back before heading toward their supporters at Dover High School, where temperatures were in the 30s. Drew Blackwell was part of his third state championship squad, equaling the success of his brother, Jason.
The outcome of the game was never really in doubt, as the Sals scored three times in the first half and four in the second. The passing was pinpoint, the shots on the mark, and the defense nearly impenetrable. The result was a convincing final game of the year.
It was a big night especially for two players, Blackwell and Ethan Hinds, each of whom scored three times. But before they started finding the net, each was stopped by Riders goalkeeper Zander Omans.
Hinds got the scoring started in the 11th minute, taking a crossing pass all alone five feet in front of Omans and knocking the ball under the keeper.
“The first one was a beautiful ball across the middle, and I just put it in,” Hinds said. “It was a good way to start the game off, give us some momentum. The rest of the goals just came as the game went on.”
The score stayed that way for a long stretch before Blackwell connected for the first time. Reese Peddrick caught up to a long outlet pass, but Omans stopped his shot. The keeper came far out of the goal in an attempt to clear the ball, but Blackwell knocked it down 35 yards from the net. He lofted a shot over the retreating goalkeeper for the 2-0 lead.
Blackwell struck again in the 35th. He inbounded a corner kick, and the ball went through Omans’ hands and into the net. Sals keeper MJ Graham was called upon to make one save in the last two minutes of the half, but other than that it was all Salesianum through 40 minutes.
Blackwell said the team had an idea of how Caesar Rodney would approach the game. “We knew that they were going to try and sit back defensively, so we tried to exploit the wide areas early, and once we did that, it kind of opened up the middle of the field. All the floodgates opened and the goals started flying in.”
The offensive show continued into the second half. Hinds blasted a shot off the crossbar early, but he didn’t miss his mark in the 46th. The junior deked around and through two Riders defenders, then fed Blackwell with a pass, which was sent in for Blackwell’s third of the evening.
Three minutes later, Hinds did it himself, taking an outlet pass, dribbling the ball in and chipping it over the keeper. Hinds earned his own hat trick in the 56th. Nate Pilson sent a pass to Alexander Krumenacker, whose shot rebounded right to Hinds, who tapped the ball into an open net.
William Mahoney completed the scoring in the 75th minute, getting on the board shortly after entering the contest.
For coach Scott Mosier, it was his 16th state championship. The Sals finished the season 17-1, with the lone loss coming on the road against the No. 1 team in the country, St. Benedict’s Prep of New Jersey.
Eleven Sals will be graduating, a fact not lost on Hinds, a junior. “It was amazing playing with these guys all season. They made me better as a player, as a person. I’m going to miss these guys.”
The margin of victory was the largest in the history of the state soccer tournament. Three times the difference was four goals: in 2012 (Salesianum 4, Indian River 0), 2004 (Salesianum 5, Caesar Rodney 1) and 1972 (Concord 4, Brandywine 0).
Gallery photos: Don Blake