The No. 1 Salesianum School boys soccer team finds itself in a familiar place this week as it is set to play for the DIAA Boys Soccer State Championship, looking to earn its third straight title.
The Sals (16-1) shut out No. 5 Caesar Rodney High School (14-2-1), 3-0, in Saturday's semifinals at Smyrna High School. They will face No. 3 Indian River High School (17-1) in the state championship at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 20, again at Smyrna High.
Though the score leaned heavily in favor of Sallies in the semis, the Riders kept the game close through most of the first half, holding their opponents off the board with stellar play from sophomore keeper Kevin Sheahan.
Sallies finally broke through with just over six minutes remaining in the first half though, when senior forward Josef Klees netted a rebound goal to give his team a lead. Senior midfielder Joseph Koziol added another before the half to give the team, which has given up only four goals all year, a commanding lead.
Head Coach Scott Mosier said he was pleased with the way his team played, but credited Sheahan's strong play for keeping the game close.
"Their keeper deserves a lot of credit," Mosier said. "He played really well. Sometimes we get a lot of chances and we're missing them high and wide, but tonight that wasn't the case. Their keeper just played really well."
As the first half wore on, the coach said, pressure was beginning to mount against his team as chance after chance was being denied.
However, Mosier added, once Klees helped the Sals break through on a rebound goal, a lot of weight came off his team's collective shoulders.
"There's no surprise that we're not the greatest attacking team," he said. "So when we get a goal or two — we've only given up four goals all year — we feel comfortable when we get a goal. Especially when we get two goals, those two goals is a good lead for us to have."
Now the Sals will prepare to try and win their third straight state title as they take on Indian River, a team they beat 2-0 just a few weeks ago at the end of October.
Despite a win already this season over IR, Mosier said he's expecting a tough task for his team to walk away with another title Tuesday night.
"They're a really well coached team, really disciplined," he said. "So it's going to be a really good final, a really good event."
In the days leading up to the game, Mosier said he still wants to see his team improve offensively. Defense has been the strong point for Sallies this year, so getting stronger on the attack needs to be the focus.
Page 2 of 2 - "We typically are going to work on attack and stuff," he said. "Whether it's crosses or runs in the box, or keeping the ball in the attacking third, our topics the next few days will definitely have attacking in them, and finishing involved in them."