WILMINGTON — Caelan Driggs scored with 9.7 seconds remaining to lift No. 1 Salesianum past No. 2 Cape Henlopen in a boys lacrosse showdown under the lights April 19 at Abessinio Stadium. It was the teams’ first meeting since the 2019 state championship, when the Vikings ended the Sals’ string of titles at four.
The Sals took a 10-6 lead into the fourth quarter, but Cape didn’t travel from Sussex County to go down easy. The Vikings closed to within three goals early on on a Gabe Best goal, which came after Cape goalkeeper Michael Sposato kept the Sals from extending their lead with a nice save.
The Sals had spent the first three quarters answering every Cape goal with one of their own, but Sposato came up big again on an attempt by Driggs just after Best scored. That led to a chance for Hank D’Ambrogi, but Sallies keeper Jackson Skinner was equal, stopping the shot at point-blank range. The Vikings got to the loose ball, however, and D’Ambrogi connected on his next shot high from mere feet away with 7:42 to go.
A Salesianum turnover helped Cape cut the deficit to one. D’Ambrogi skipped one under Skinner with 4:42 to go, and the contingent of fans who made the trip up from Lewes made themselves heard. They got even louder at the 2:01 mark when Gabe Best took a pass from D’Ambrogi 15 yards in front of the net, turned and scored high, leveling the score at 10.
Salesianum took possession on a Cape violation with 1:43 to go, and they burned nearly all of it before going to work in the final seconds. The first Sals shot, with about 20 seconds remaining, missed the net, but the Sals retained possession. Dylan Mooney started the play behind the net. He danced away from a Vikings defender and when another drifted toward him, Mooney flipped the ball to a cutting Driggs, who found the top of the net.
It was a fitting end to a tightly contested game. The Sals’ Rowyn Nurry and Cape’s Jaden Davis traded goals early on, and Sposato was called upon to make several saves in the first. Driggs and Mooney added goals in the late stages of the quarter, but D’Ambrogi cut the Sals’ lead to 3-2 with his first of the night. The quarter ended in a 3-3 tie thanks to a laser from Davis, who absorbed a big hit before taking the shot.
The Vikings nearly took the lead as the second stanza opened, but one shot hit a post, and Skinner notched a save on the other. Colby Bushweller put Sallies on top with a goal that made it 4-3. Driggs restored the two-goal cushion, hitting from a 45-degree angle after taking a pass from Bushweller.
Salesianum was called for several penalties on the night, and the Vikings made them pay on one late in the second. Michael Frederick sent a near-underhanded shot past Skinner to make it 5-4, but the Sals answered. Dominic Rottura picked up a ground ball on the next faceoff, rushed in and scored with the long pole, and Matthew Riley won the next faceoff and ended up behind the Vikings’ net before emerging and tucking a shot in for the 7-4 lead.
The Sals took two four-goal leads in the third quarter, only to have Cape rebound with tallies of their own. Driggs set up the final four-goal advantage, one-timing a shot with 2:39 to go in the third that increased the Sals’ lead to 10-6.
Final statistics for Salesianum were not available late Monday night. Unofficially, Driggs led the way with four goals, while Bushweller was the other Sals player with multiple goals. He had two. The Sals improved to 6-1 and will visit Delaware Military Academy on April 27 at 3:45 p.m.
D’Ambrogi had four goals, while Best, Davis and Frederick had two each. Sposato had 10 saves. Cape (4-3) hosts Smyrna on Wednesday night at 7.
All photos by Riabene Troilo.