WILMINGTON — Salesianum played evenly with high school lacrosse powerhouse Culver Academies (Ind.) on March 25 at Abessinio Stadium. The Sals took a five-goal lead early in the second quarter before the Eagles began their comeback. The teams were tied heading into the fourth quarter, and two Culver goals were enough to give the visitors an 11-10 victory.
Culver, ranked fifth in the country by U.S. Lacrosse Magazine, took an early 1-0 lead before the Sals got their offense in gear. Eagles goalie Adam Blind made two saves before Kaleb Russell ended a long Salesianum possession with a lefthanded bouncer into the net from 15 yards out with 5:34 to go in the first.
A minute later, a Culver player was sent off, and the Sals took advantage of the man-up situation when Brian Wong took a crossing pass and scored. Caelan Driggs was next to score, coming from behind the net and sending a turnaround shot past Blind with 1:06 left. Driggs had the assist on a goal for Griffin McGovern, who found paydirt with just 7.1 seconds left in the quarter.
Sallies earned another man-up opportunity a minute into the second, and they scored to extend the lead to four. After two saves for Sals keeper Jackson Skinner, the home team capitalized on another Culver penalty. This time, McGovern scored from in close, and the lead was 6-1.
Luke Macaluso began the Culver comeback with a nifty one-timer at the 8:38 mark. The Eagles added the next three goals, but Salesianum kept the offensive pressure on. The Sals hit one post, and Blind made a save before Driggs found an opening in the upper right corner to restore a two-goal advantage. Ty English scored for the Eagles before the half ended.
Matthew Riley won the second-half faceoff for the Sals, and they held the ball for more than a minute before Wong found the net, making it 8-6. Culver took control after that. Jayden Smith streaked down the middle, taking a pass and beating the keeper just 13 seconds after Wong’s goal. Griffin Scane tied the game at 8 on a man-up goal 43 seconds later. With 9:12 to go in the third, Braedon Saris deked around a defender and hit from in close, giving the Eagles their first lead since it was 1-0.
Skinner kept the deficit at one with a big save shortly thereafter, and Sallies tied the game once more on McGovern’s third of the evening. That was the situation heading into the fourth.
Riley won another faceoff to begin the fourth, resulting in a Salesianum shot, but Blind was there for the save. The Eagles took the lead with 10:03 to go as Jackson Gray scored from a sharp angle to Skinner’s right. Culver send a few shots wide, another glanced off the post, and Skinner came up with a big save over the next few minutes.
A few Sals possessions ended in turnovers, one of which led to an Eagles shot and save by Skinner. The Sals, however, were flagged for a penalty on that play, and it took less than 20 seconds for Macaluso to make them pay with a goal.
Colby Bushweller brought Sallies back to within a goal with 2:56 to go. They got the ball back shortly thereafter, and Wong’s attempt to tie went a bit wide. The Sals retained possession, but they sent a pass out of bounds with 28 seconds left, and Culver was able to run out the clock.
Final statistics were not available late Thursday night. Salesianum (1-1), which received top 25 consideration in the U.S. Lacrosse Magazine poll, will travel to Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on Saturday at noon.
The Eagles, who traveled from Indiana to the East Coast by bus, will remain in the area and play ninth-ranked Malvern Prep (Pa.) on Saturday.
All photos by Mike Lang.