The three-time defending state soccer champions Salesianum took the next step toward a four-peat on Wednesday night, defeating Caesar Rodney 2-0 in the DIAA boys soccer state semifinals at Smyrna High School.
While winning has become common place for the third-ranked soccer team in the entire nation, they were up against a worthy opponent in Caesar Rodney on Wednesday night. The Riders came into Wednesday night’s contest boasting a solid lineup not only capable of manufacturing scoring opportunities, but the defense and goaltending to keep opponents off the scoreboard.
Knowing this, Sallies came out with a lot of energy matching CR from the get-go. Salesianum used quick passing to help control the field, immediately putting the Riders on their heels.
Sallies’ early pressure paid off when Joe Cain found the back of the net firing a shot past Rider goalkeeper Kevin Sheahan to give Salesianum a 1-0 lead.
While many teams would have put their heads down against such a tough opponent, the Riders continued with their game plan of keeping Salesianum to the outside and clearing the ball whenever it entered a dangerous area.
The Riders’ effort was good enough to keep the score 1-0 heading into the half.
In the second, the Riders continued to try and match Salesianum’s speed and up-tempo style. While their defensive effort was as solid as could be expected, their offense was still stuck in neutral.
The Riders rarely took possession across the center of the field, and when they did they were quickly blocked by Salesianum’s brick-wall defense.
With constant pressure from Salesianum and little push-back from the CR side of things, the game became a shooting gallery for Sallies. And at the 54:00 mark, Salesianum was able to beat Sheahan once again. This time, Michael DiSabatino grooved a beautiful pass to Matt Paranczak who made no mistake putting the ball in the back of the net to give Salesianum a 2-0 lead.
With the field titled toward the CR cage most of the game, a 2-0 lead for Salesianum might as well of been 10-0 as Sallies made the smart play with the ball the rest of the game to hold on for the victory.
Salesianum will go for their fourth straight state championship on Saturday night against Appoquinimink who defeated Cape Henlopen 1-0 in the first game Wednesday night on a second-half goal by Usef Basma.
The division I championship will be played at Smyrna High School on Saturday night beginning at 7:00 p.m.