By Matt Chandik
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/9/17
Salesianum School is never satisfied with simply annually being the favorite for the Delaware state championship.
The Sals want to prove themselves against the best that the country – and Canada, for that matter – have to offer. They know that they usually have the most talent of any Delaware team, but they want to test themselves to see how they stack up against the best.
Saturday was no different, and sometimes, playing the best means you find out what you need to work on. Salesianum fell, 8-2, to Long Island powerhouse Garden City at the Checking for Cancer Invitational at The Havertford School behind three points apiece from JP Basile, Sean Coughlin and Finn Gibbons.
The Trojans are another top foe on Salesianum’s schedule, which also includes dates with Hill Academy (11-6 loss), Fairfield Prep (Conn.) and Malvern Prep, among others. Those games will go a long way in helping Bob Healy’s group prepare for a run at another state title, but the Sals struggled against Garden City.
“We made a lot of mental errors clearing the ball, a lot of offsides and we weren’t recognizing the open pass,” said midfielder Brett Hobbs, who scored both Salesianum goals. “It might have been a confidence issue. We’ve got to keep composed and calm down. This helps prepare us for what the ultimate goal is, and that’s a state championship, but we want to show that we’re just a team from Delaware who wants to play big teams and lose. We want to win these games, so it’s a tough loss.”
Other than Hobbs, Salesianum couldn’t get much going offensively, and eventually, the Trojans’ diverse offense wore the Sals down. Basile, Coughlin, Gibbons, Luke Keating, Trevor Yeboah-Kodie and Tyler Wuchte all recorded multiple points for Garden City (4-1).
“I just think it’s in our heads with mental errors,” added Hobbs, a Villanova verbal. “Clearing the ball, working the ball around on offense and recognizing what we need to do to win the game.”
On the other side, Garden City got off to an explosive start and never looked back. Kieran Gunn won the game’s opening faceoff, sprinted downfield and dished to Basile, and the Duke signee did the rest. It’s always a good thing when you’re up nine seconds into the game, but it was Garden City’s defense that kept the Sals at bay. Eric Mueller backstopped a stingy defense with five saves, and the Trojans poured it on with five second-half goals to send Salesianum packing.
“In the second half, (Garden City coach Steve Finnell) wanted a big-little matchup and that’s what we did,” Basile (Duke signee) said. “We had Luke Keating at X, a great middie, and he and I were collaborating together, as well as Finn Gibbons and Sean Coughlin. They were switching on shorties, so that’s where we got most of our offensive matchups from.
It helps when you’ve got the arsenal that the Trojans boast. There are a ton of scoring options at Finnell’s disposal, and it’s difficult for defenses to match up with Garden City for an entire game.
“I think it’s very difficult for teams to match up with us,” Basile said. “We’re all such great friends, we’re seniors now, and I don’t think anyone can guard us overall. If you’re going to put a pole on me, then you’re going to have a shortie on another great player.
“We’re hopefully going to be pretty strong. Ultimately, it’s just listening to Coach Finnell. He knows everything and he drops a lot of wisdom on us, so it’s a lot of credit to him.”
Garden City (4-1) 1 2 3 2 — 8
JP Basile 2g, 1a
Sean Coughlin 2g, 1a
Finn Gibbons 1g, 2a
Luke Keating 1g, 1a
Trevor Yeboah-Kodie 1g, 1a
Tyler Wuchte 1g, 1a
Kiernan Gunn 1a
Eric Mueller 5 saves
Salesianum (3-2) 1 0 0 1 — 2
Brett Hobbs 2g
Bradley Santore 1a
Michael Drake 1a
Brett Emmi 9 saves