Could this be the year for the changing of the guard in boys' high school soccer?
Some new faces are dotting the landscape in Delaware high school soccer this year. Now that the weather is cooperating, it's cold but dry, the 2012 DIAA state soccer tournament should continue on schedule.
The first round of the tournament witnessed some expected results, and some not so expected winners and losers on the pitch. Running down the list, we see that Apppoquinimink was a surprise winner over St. Mark's by the score of 3-1 last Saturday. The Jaguars scorers were juniors Alex Romano, Noah Jester and Jackson Wines. Senior goalkeeper Dan Weaver made 3 saves against the Spartans. Appoquinimink is a talented soccer team with an improving program, but St. Mark's has a long legacy as one of the top soccer teams in the region, and rarely loses at tournament time.
But give credit to coach Adam Bear and his staff for building this team into a potential state champion. The Jags have won eight straight and have a good chance to make it nine in a row when they take on Indian River Wednesday night at 8 p.m. at Milford High School. Indian River advanced by beating McKean 2-0. The other game at Milford features Sussex Tech against Caesar Rodney, beginning at 6 p.m.
The other surprise winner is another up and coming program: The St. George's Hawks, who defeated St. Elizabeth's last week 1-0. Junior Casey Hayden scored for St. George's and senior goalkeeper John Hazewski recorded two saves against the Vikings. The Hawks finished the season with a very fine 12-3 record and watch for them to get stronger over the next few years. St. George's won nine of their last ten regular season games and they appear to be peaking at just the right time. The young Hawks will not have an easy time of it against Charter Wednesday night. Charter edged St. Andrew's 1-0 in the first round and the Force has been in the hunt for the state title over the past few years. Watch for this game to go into overtime as two very poised teams square off at Caravel Academy on Wednesday night at beginning at 6 p.m.
The other feature game of the night at Caravel pits two very old Catholic Conference rivals, Archmere taking on powerhouse Salesianum beginning around 8 p.m. The Sals have won numerous titles over the past decade are in a position to grab another crown. Archmere defeated a good Cape Henlopen team in the first round 5-0. The Auks are a good young team, but their lack of playoff experience may well be a problem this year. The Sals have speed, size, depth and talent in abundance. Head coach Scott Mosier always has his squad well prepared for any competitors. The rest of the state is closing the gap and showing rapid improvement on the soccer pitch. Don't be surprised if the title remains at 18th & Broom Streets for at least one more year, but watch out for next season, when the new guard makes a serious challenge for the state championship.