After a big, come-from-behind against Littlestown over the weekend, the Delone Catholic boys’ soccer team was hoping to build some momentum on Monday against Dover.
Unfortunately for the Squires, a slow start and a high-intensity Eagles team proved a bit too much handle as the hosts fell to Dover, 2-0.
“We came out very sleepy,” Delone coach Austin Groves said afterward. “They were beating us to a lot of balls. That wasn’t our normal game and I was not pleased at all with the way first half went.”
The Squires were actually the ones who were on the front foot in the early going, as Nolan Kruse’s ball into the box just minutes in went tantalizingly through the Dover six-yard box, though no one was there to poke it home.
Each team struggled to control the midfield for long stretches of the first half, though Y-1 first-team all-star Jaeger James looked a threat each time he touched the ball.
That lack of sustained position combined with a moment of class from James proved to be the undoing for Delone last in the opening half. The Squires turned the ball over in the middle of the field about 40 yards from goal and James did the rest, dribbling past a pair of defenders and then coolly slotting home past Delone goalkeeper Liam Russell for the opening goal with 35 seconds remaining before the break.
“To concede a goal in the last 30 seconds, I mean there’s nothing worse,” Groves said of the late goal. “Going into halftime, you just want to secure, make some adjustments at halftime, and try get them back to playing their game if you can. But then you concede a goal and that’s a whole ‘nother level of halftime conversation.”
Out of the break, the Squires began to get more comfortable and fashioned a pair of half chances for freshman striker Angello Salazar, though Salazar was unable to do much to test the Dover goalkeeper.
“It’s all about practice. It’s just something you correct on the practice field,” Groves said of Salazar becoming more clinical with his finishing. “We go back to work and we just straighten this thing out, that’s all it is. He’s a very intelligent player, and he’s scored a ton of goals for us this season. So as young as he is, he’s amazing. He puts the ball in the back of the net. So it’s just practice. Like I said, he’s young and he’ll correct that.”
Midway through the second half, the Eagles made the Squires pay for not taking advantage when they had chances. James sent in a corner kick that found the head of Dakota Spangler, who nodded the ball past Russell to double the lead with 21:59 left in the game.
That’s when things really got rough for the hosts. First it was Russell who was forced off with a lower leg injury suffered on the goal-scoring play. Then, approximately 10 minutes later, Fernando Salazar had to be carried off after an injury to his upper achilles.
Dover went on to close out the 2-0 victory and both Russell and Salazar will now be in question ahead of Delone’s league game with Hanover on Tuesday.
“We’ll have to do some lineup shuffling and we’ll have to see how people repair themselves overnight,” Groves said. “Hopefully they’ll take care of themselves tonight and, yeah, we’re back at it tomorrow. But that’s what the season is, we have to just keep on going.”
Both Delone and Dover now find themselves at 1-5 on the year.
Clay Sauertieg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dover 1 1 — 2
Delone Catholic 0 0 — 0
Goals: D-Jaeger James, Dakota Spangler. A-James. Shots: D-4; DC-8. Saves: D-8 DC-Liam Russell 3, Aidan Groves 2. Corners: D-5; DC-4.