Salesianum pulls away from CR for fourth straight boys lacrosse title 14-9

Jared Wagenhoffer of Caesar Rodney celebrates his first-quarter goal. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

BEAR — Caesar Rodney High didn’t show up Monday night looking for a moral victory.

The Riders wanted a genuine one.
So knowing they gave favored Salesianum all it could handle in the DIAA boys’ lacrosse state championship game wasn’t much consolation for CR’s players.

The top-seeded Sals still used a big five-goal run late in the contest to pull away to a 14-9 win over the No. 2 Riders at Caravel Academy.

For Sallies (16-3), it was the program’s fourth straight state crown, seventh in the last eight years and ninth since Dover teacher Bob Healy became head coach in 2006.

“Obviously this isn’t the way we wanted our season to end,” said CR senior midfielder Demetrius Stevenson. “Just the grit, the determination and effort that we played with tonight showed that we were able to battle with a team like this. We were in it the whole game.”

Caesar Rodney goalie Jacob Stant saves a shot by Brett Hobbs of Salesianum in the second quarter Monday night.

“Our ultimate goal was to win the game,” said Riders’ coach Matt Faircloth. “Being competitive wasn’t something we were settling for. We wanted to have a mindset not only to compete but to be able to be one goal better.

“The kids battled relentlessly the entire game. I was very proud of their effort.”

CR (16-3) has now lost its last 18 meetings with Sallies dating back to 2006, when it fell to the Sals for the first time. Most of those games were one-sided, including a 19-8 loss to the Sals on May 17.

This time, though, the Riders trailed by no more than two goals for most of the game.

Sallies led only 8-6 at halftime and 9-8 after three quarters.

The Riders still trailed just 10-8 with about six minutes remaining. That’s when Sals’ goalie Brady Emmi made two big back-to-back saves — the second coming on a close-range rebound.

“He’s a great player,” Stevenson said about Emmi. “Things just didn’t go our way. We got a little unlucky but it is what it is.”

Demetrius Stevenson of Caesar Rodney trying to advance the ball past a pair of Sallies defenders in the 2nd quarter.

Sallies gained possession immediately ran the ball downfield where junior Logan Falconetti fired home a shot with 5:43 remaining to push the Sals’ lead. Falconetti later added Sallies’ last goal with 51 seconds remaining as the Sals’ lead balooned to 14-8.

There was a certain irony to Falconetti contributing to the Sals’ victory. A Viola resident, Falconetti went to school in the CR district through eighth grade.

Falconetti’s father, Paul, also played on two of the Riders’ state championship teams.

“It’s fun,” said Falconetti. “He won two so now I’ve won three. I get to talk to him about it at home.

“It’s an honor to play against those kids. I grew up with those kids my whole life. They played a heck of a game. They have a great team.”

Sallies also got a pair of goals from Dover’s Bradley Santore, whose father is a former CR administrator. Senior Cooper Urban had a game-high five goals for the Sals.

Healy, a former Wesley College football player and current assistant coach, said he was dedicating the state title to former Wolverine coach Mike Drass, who passed away last month. Healy wore his Wesley pullover with Drass’ initials on it Monday night.

“This one’s for Coach Drass and his family,” said Healy. “I wouldn’t be here without Coach Drass.”

The Riders got a team-high three goals from senior Jared Wagenhoffer, two each from Noah Longest and Joshua Cosden and one apiece from Stevenson and James Cava.

Faircloth said junior goalie Jacob Stant deserved a lot of credit for keeping CR in the game.

“Jacob Stant played the best game I’ve ever seen him play,” said Faircloth. “Honestly, if he didn’t have the game he had, it may not have been this close.”

The Riders are 0-3 against the Sals in the state finals and 0-4 in title games since they won their last one in 1999.

But CR also lost by a combined 31-6 in its first two title-game meetings with Sallies. This one was clearly a lot closer.

“There were a lot of times when they could have gone on a run and we wouldn’t allow it or we’d answer a goal back,” said Faircloth. “I was very proud of our effort. … It just stinks for this senior class. They busted their butts.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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