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Salesianum School rallies for win over familiar foe Cape Henlopen High School for DIAA boys lacrosse crown: Photo gallery

Salesianum won the 2023 DIAA boys lacrosse championship. It was the program's third straight, prompting some of the players to hold up three fingers. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

DOVER — Salesianum’s lacrosse team rarely trailed its Delaware opponents this season, but with 11:06 remaining in the Sals’ state championship battle with Cape Henlopen on June 2, the Vikings had a two-goal cushion and most of the momentum. They also had a large number of fans in the stands at Dover High School.

But the top-seeded Sals didn’t panic, patiently going about their business, and the rest of the game belonged to them. They scored five straight goals over an eight-minute span on the way to a 13-11 win. It was the program’s third straight championship-game win over No. 7 Cape Henlopen, their 11th in the past 14 seasons and 13th overall.

“Cape kind of went on a run there in the third quarter,” junior Rowyn Nurry said. We’ve been working for this day for the whole season. We weren’t just going to give up.”

Salesianum got contributions from a number of players down the stretch. Luca Pompeii skipped a shot past Cape goalie Mason Trench at the 9:09 mark to cut the deficit in half. A minute and a half later, following a faceoff win, Ryan Cunningham bounced one in to tie. By now, the Sallies faithful were going crazy in the bleachers and along the fence, and the team gave them more to cheer about.

The Sals forced a Cape turnover and went after the lead. Rowyn Nurry and Cunningham worked from behind the net, and Cunningham saw Chase Black cutting from Trench’s left. Black’s low laser found the net, and the Sals had the lead for the first time since five minutes into the third quarter.

Fifteen seconds later, they added to their lead. Noah Driggs picked up a loose ball after a turnover, and he got it to Nurry on the run. Nurry approached the net, deked and buried the shot over the goalie.

“I just snapped it around and it went in. All the credit to Noah Driggs on that play,” Nurry said.

Sals goalie Cam Taylor allowed goals on Cape’s first two shots of the day, but he was more than solid the rest of the way. He stopped two point-blank shots as the Vikings sought to claw back. Elliot Dotson increased the lead to three with 68 seconds left, and the Vikings were held scoreless until Coveleski connected with 10 seconds to go.

Sals coach Bob Healy said Taylor just needed a few minutes to get settled in.

“Once he was here in the moment, he played unbelievably,” Healy said.

Salesianum led, 3-2, after a quarter and 7-5 at the half as the game lived up to its advance billing. Cape, despite the seventh seed, was generally recognized as the second-best team in the state. They scored on their first two shots from Luke Burton and Jahden Cannon, thrilling their fans with a 2-0 lead. Dotson hit a crossbar, and Trench stopped everything sent his way until Dotson fired a shot past him with 6:30 to go in the first. Nurry’s goal at the 4:04 mark put the Sals on top for the first time.

After the Vikings tied the game at 3, Pompeii sandwiched two goals around one from Dotson to lift the Sals to a 6-3 advantage. Salesianum took a two-goal lead into intermission, getting a bouncer from Nurry with just 14.4 seconds left on the clock.

The Vikings scored the first three of the third quarter to go back on top, and Nurry’s goal that tied the score, 8-8, was the only one the Sals would manage in the quarter. But they knew they had 12 more minutes to go, and that proved to be plenty of time.

As the Vikings surged, Healy told his team to be patient and keep working hard. They responded.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be out there with them every day for two hours,” he said. “What they did, to have each other’s backs, the next-man-up mentality, was amazing. They put a masterpiece together.”

This was the fourth consecutive year the Sals and Vikings met for the title and the ninth overall. Salesianum has won six of them.

“It’s something special,” Driggs said of the rivalry between the two programs. “I don’t think there’s much like that around here.”

Final statistics were not available Saturday night. The Sals finished with a record of 14-4, while the Vikings wrapped up at 15-4.

All photos by Mike Lang.