WILMINGTON — For the third time this season, the Salesianum lacrosse team took on a national power at Abessinio Stadium. This time, IMG Academy out of Bradenton, Fla., sent its national team — full of Division I college recruits — to Wilmington to meet up with Delaware’s top-ranked team.
The Sals and Ascenders put on a taut, physical show all night, with neither team ever leading by more than two goals. Salesianum tied the game with just 25.6 seconds remaining in regulation and nearly won the game twice in overtime before IMG snuck in the winning goal with less than a minute remaining for a 12-11 final.
This game followed on the heels of those against Culver Academies (Ind.) and Malvern Prep (Pa.). The Sals led both of those nationally ranked teams before falling by one and five goals, respectively. The performances earned the Sals the No. 25 ranking in the country in one poll.
Against IMG, Sallies took a 10-8 lead with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter when Caelan Driggs beat Ascenders goalkeeper Cade Bauer, firing up the crowd at Abessinio that included a large contingent of Salesianum students. But Ari Allen, who had a banner night and will play next year at Syracuse University, went low past Sals keeper Jackson Skinner with 3:39 to go to cut the lead to a single goal.
IMG tied it up with 2:10 left when a player passed the ball over the net from behind, and a teammate caught it and shot successfully in one motion. The Ascenders made it three unanswered at the 1:26 mark as Ryan Sforzo whipped one low into the net. That gave IMG its first lead since very early in the second half, when they had a 6-5 advantage.
The Sals took possession on the next faceoff. With the seconds ticking down, the team got the ball to Rowyn Nurry. He drifted toward the middle and, as he was being knocked to the turf, slung a backhanded shot past Bauer to level the score.
In the four-minute, sudden-death overtime, Salesianum had the first crack. They were patient with the ball and eventually got it to Kaleb Russell. He crept in on the keeper, and his lefthanded shot rang off the post to the Bauer’s left. IMG took possession, but they coughed up the ball deep in Sallies territory on a bad pass, giving the ball back to the home team. This time, Driggs lined up the potential game-winner, but he was stoned by Bauer.
The Ascenders had an opening, and they took advantage. Allen carried the ball downfield and behind the Sals’ net before reversing course and looking for an outlet. He found Braden Krumme, who beat a screened Skinner to end the contest.
Final statistics were not available late Friday night. Salesianum finished the regular season at 10-3 and will find out its state tournament path over the weekend.