BOULDER — There are teams that walk on the pitch and just have swagger.
Delaware powerhouse soccer program Salesianum, winners of the last six state titles and 10 of the last 12, has it. You can count on your fingers and toes the number of games they have lost over the last 25 years … no kidding, look it up.
On Saturday afternoon at Christian Recht Field, the Boulder Panthers didn’t blink against the Sallies, who came in ranked No. 5 nationally by Topdrawersoccer.com.
Boulder coach Hardy Kalisher’s side scored three times in the second half and sent the Sallies home after the Panthers scored a 5-3 victory.
“I think any time you have an opportunity to truly represent Colorado in a high school sport; playing for what’s on the chest and for each other, the boys took it to another level today and they wanted it,” said Kalisher, whose team improved to 5-0 this season and will likely nab the attention of those in charge of those national polls in the coming weeks.
“A lot of folks in Colorado and nationally were watching this game; so this is up there in terms of big wins. This won’t define the season, but it certainly is a special moment.”
Salesianum (3-1), which beat Fairview 3-1 on Friday, worked its patient, tactical and possession oriented game-plan to perfection in the early going and it paid off in the 13th minute. Bryce Wallace took advantage of a failed clearing attempt and beat Djibril Doumbia for a 1-0 lead.
The following six minutes belonged to Boulder.
The Panthers equalized in the 17th minute. Senior midfielder Abraham Lopez got into the box and ripped a right-footed shot past a well placed Gavin Campbell, tucking inside the far-post.
With the confidence of knowing they could hang, Boulder went on the offensive again and less than a minute later Simon Julien fed Trey Pace a beautiful cross and he finished with ease.
“We were coming out here expecting to work for our team, our fans and our coach — who hold a high standard for us — and this feels good,” said Pace, who started his first game in an attacking role for Kalisher. “This was just another day at the office.”
The Sallies equalized in the 29th minute and a nifty chip by Jason Blackwell over Doumbia, who had the angle.
“You definitely got to give Boulder a lot of credit for having a good system to counter our direct style. They had a direct system with some athletic guys that could get behind us,” Salesianum coach Scott Mosier said. “As we pushed numbers forward, as we always do, it really opened us up a little bit and at the end of the day we just couldn’t match their energy.”
The second half was owned by the Panthers, whose pace seemed to frustrate their sea-level opponents. Julien ran onto a great through ball by Nick McCabe, beat the goalie to it and sliced a shot between his legs and scored to give Boulder the lead for good in the 48th minute.
Pace and McCabe would each tack on insurance goals to cap off the victory.
“What a great opportunity to test our guys against a team that has lost 20 games in 25 years,” Kalisher said. “And for us to be able to test and learn so much about ourselves, our character and our gameplan from beginning to end; we don’t face team that can score that way.
“It was a chess match for sure.”
BOULDER 5, SALESIANUM (WILMINGTON, DE) 3
At Recht Field
Goals (assists) —
Salesianum: Bryce Wallace (Thomas McGrail), 13th minute; Boulder: Abrham Lopez (unassisted), 17th; Trey Pace (Simon Julien), 18th; Salesianum: Jason Blackwell (unassisted), 29th; Boulder: Julien (Nick McCabe), 48th; Pace (Omar Castruita), 56th; McCabe (unassisted), 80th; Salesianum: John Leonard (unassisted), 80th.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) —
Salesianum: Gavin Campbell (80-5-2); Boulder: Djibril Doumbia (80-3-4).