BEAR — Two of Delaware’s best high school soccer sides got together for a prime-time battle on Oct. 15, and between all the whistles from the officials, they managed to put on an entertaining show. A goal from Jake Ross in the final seconds of the first half was the difference as Salesianum captured a 2-1 victory over Caravel at Bob Peoples Stadium.
The teams traded chances early on, but a Caravel free kick from 50 yards out was eventually cleared, and the counter by the Sals ended with a shot just wide off the foot of Tyler Cifa. Sallies missed on two other opportunities, unable to send shots in on Buccaneers goalkeeper Alejandro Marte, but Caravel did not miss on their next offensive advance.
A foul on the Sals set Caravel up with a free kick from about 27 yards out for Zain Akhtar. Sallies goalkeeper Zach Bittner punched it over the end line, giving the Buccaneers a corner kick in the 18th minute. The inbounds pass was headed by Donovan Dixon, with Bittner knocking away that attempt, The ball fell right at Finlay Lum, and his header found a gap between the near post and a Salesianum defender, deflected off Mason Csapo and into the net. It took a few seconds, but the officials ruled that the ball had crossed the goal line, and the Bucs led, 1-0.
Marte made a stop in the 19th, but the Sals kept the pressure on, and it paid dividends a few minutes later. The Sals’ Paris Pappas and Marte chased a Salesianum through ball toward the top of the 18-yard box, and Pappas won the race. He tapped the ball past Marte and watched it roll into the far side of the net, tying the score in the 26th. It was only the second goal allowed by Caravel all season.
The game was stopped several times because of excessive physicality, with lots of tackles and bumps along the way. One of those deemed to be too much by the referee resulted in a 65-yard free kick for the Bucs, and Jacob Wojciechowski showed off a tremendous leg. His offering was caught by Bittner above his head.
Another foul played the key role in what would be the winning goal. The Sals’ Jake Ross, who did not start, got ahead of the Bucs’ defense in the closing seconds of the half. He was brought down from behind and awarded a penalty kick. Ross sent his offering low and left, but Marte anticipated correctly and rejected the shot. Ross alertly followed the miss and sent a left-footed shot into the net, handing the Sals the 2-1 lead.
Bittner was called upon to make three saves in the first six minutes of the second half as the Bucs came out with the momentum. Much of the second half was played between the 18-yard boxes. When they did get shots, Salesianum sent several just over the crossbar, while the Bucs fired a bunch of long free kicks directly on net.
Marte kept the margin at one goal in the 69th minute with a diving save on Paolo Magat. Bittner answered in the next minute, stopping a shot through traffic on a free kick from just outside the box. The laser from Akhtar was ticketed for the top left corner. The final play of the night was another Bucs free kick, but it was cleared, and the game was over.
The Sals had a 12-5 shot advantage, and they earned four corner kicks to the Bucs’ three. Bittner had four saves. Salesianum improved to 10-1 and will host Dickinson on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
For Caravel, Marte had eight saves. The Bucs (10-1) are home Tuesday against Wilmington Friends at 6:15 p.m.
All photos by Mike Lang.