DOVER — Nothing lasts forever, and Salesianum soccer found that out on Dec. 12. It took a while, but Appoquinimink buried four penalty kicks to the Sals’ one to take the DIAA Division I soccer state championship, 1-1 (4-1) on a mild day at Dover High School.
The Sals had won every state championship since 2010. The first three of those were the final under a one-division format. The last seven have been in Division I, and four of those came against Appo. Sallies and the Jaguars met in 2013 and again from 2016-18. The last two were one-goal games, and this one was even closer.
It was a physical battle all afternoon between two teams that know each other well. The Jaguars, the top seed in the tournament, shut out the No. 2 Sals, 3-0, back on Oct. 29, ending a six-season in-state unbeaten streak for Sallies. The Jags were in the driver’s seat in that one from the get-go, but Saturday’s final was a different story.
After a scoreless first 20 minutes, the offenses heated up a bit in the second. A Salesianum defender blocked a shot off the foot of Appoquinimink’s Hindovei Tucker in the 21st minute, and the Jags could not take advantage of the game’s first corner kick three minutes later.
The Sals, playing into a stiff win in the first half, took the lead in the 27th. William McDermott send a long pass in the direction of teammate Jake Ross. Ross won the race to the ball and chipped it over the approaching keeper A.J. Lancour, then watched as it bounced into the open net.
Neither team could take advantage of numerous free kicks over the next 13 minutes, and the Sals took the 1-0 lead into intermission.
The Jaguars, with the wind in their face, kept Sallies keeper Sam Donnelly busy as the second half progressed. He caught a few direct free kicks, along with a long shot. Another strike hit the side of the Salesianum net. Sallies had a 55-yard free kick by Cal Walsh knocked away by a leaping Lancour in the 57th minute.
The game was full of collisions and hard tackles, and that led to plenty of free kicks, including one that eventually resulted in the tying goal. A free kick was knocked over the end line by the Sals, giving the Jaguars a corner kick in the 63rd minute. Aidan McDade lofted one into the box in front of Donnelly, and teammate Colby Nibggebrugge headed the ball through a seam into the net to equalize.
Seconds later, the Sals’ Reese Peddrick rang a shot off the post behind Lancour. The Sals also played the final four and a half minutes of regulation and part of overtime with a man advantage after an Appo player was sent off after receiving his second yellow card. The teams played the rest of overtime at 10 players each after Sallies also had a player booked for a second time on the afternoon.
The Jaguars shot first in the penalty kicks, and the score was even after one round. But while Appo couldn’t miss, the Sals had a shot blocked and another sailed wide. Up 3-1 with two kicks remaining, a successful conversion by T.J. Hastings would seal the title for the Jaguars. When his shot hit the net, Appo finally had that elusive first state championship.
Final statistics were not available late Saturday night. Salesianum finished with a record of 11-1-1, as the state championship result is officially a tie. Appoquinimink finished 14-0-1.
All photos by Mike Lang.