WILMINGTON — Salesianum welcomed unbeaten Wilmington Charter’s soccer team to Abessinio Stadium on Oct. 22, and when the game was over, the Force had suffered their first defeat, 4-0, at the hands of the Sals. That leaves Caesar Rodney as the only team in Delaware still without a loss.
The Sals came out and went right after the Force, earning three corner kicks in the first 12 minutes, although they could not convert. They had another in the 13th minute; that one came after Jake Ross, who missed several games this season, took a pass from Darius Gavris and fired a left-footed shot off Charter keeper Sean Dougherty and over the end line.
Ross was stopped by a diving Dougherty in the 18th, but he finally broke through in the 19th. Christian Velasquez sent a long pass upfield over Ross’ head, prompting a race to the ball between Ross and Dougherty. Ross was able to chip the ball away from the keeper, get behind him and have nothing but a wide-open net in front of him for the 1-0 lead.
That was the lone goal of the first half, but not for lack of opportunities. Dougherty made another diving stop on Paris Pappas, and a free kick in the final two minutes from the Force was caught by Sals goalkeeper Zach Bittner.
Salesianum struck again in the 52nd minute. A free kick from the corner to the left of Dougherty bounced around in front of the net, and Sean Duffy found it and knocked it in.
Six minutes later, Ross picked up his second goal of the afternoon in unorthodox fashion. Pappas sent a pass in his direction, and Ross was bumped and fell over as he went for the ball just a few yards out. The ball appeared to his Ross around the hip as he fell to the turf and rolled into the net to make it 3-0, Pappas scored unassisted in the 66th to close out the scoring.
Dougherty kept it 3-0 just after Ross’ second goal with a superb diving one-handed stab of a Salesianum shot, and he made at least two more quality saves before the end of the match. Bittner came up large on a Charter corner kick in the final seven minutes, stopping a shot at point-blank range.
The Sals outshot the Force, 15-5, and had a 7-2 edge in corner kicks. Bittner had three saves. Salesianum (9-4) plays its final regular-season game on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. at Delaware Military Academy.
Dougherty stopped nine Salesianum shots. The Force fell to 10-1-1 and takes on St. Elizabeth on Monday at 3:30 p.m. at Alapocas Run State Park before traveling to Saint Mark’s on Wednesday.
All photos by Mike Lang.