National soccer powerhouse St. Benedict’s Prep visited Abessinio Stadium Saturday evening for a high school boys’ soccer battle versus Salesianum. The St. Benedict’s Prep Gray Bees came into the match ranked #2 in the nation in addition to being 4-time defending high school national champions. Although not breaking into top 25 rankings, Salesianum brought a 5-1 record into the contest and has earned multiple top 25 votes this season by the national coaches’ association.
Most of the first 25 minutes of the game was played in Sallies defensive half. The Salesianum defenders weathered attack after attack from the Gray Bees, holding strong until the minute mark when the Gray bees finally broke the 0-0 tie. Chis Appouh, #10 for the Gray Bees, bent a left footed shot around the Sallies keeper into the side netting giving St. Benedict’s the lead. Two minutes later, St. Benedict’s would add to their lead as Gray Bees would force a turnover deep in their offensive 3rd and send a right footed shot into the back of the net from 10 yards out. St. Benedicts would add to their two goal lead at the 12 minute mark when Appouh again used his speed and agility to create just enough space to get off another left footed shot that he placed perfectly around the Sallies keeper. Despite being down 3-0, Sallies continued to fight right up until halftime and found themselves more and more in their own offensive half looking to create scoring opportunities.
Sallies defense looked determined at the beginning of the second half. They did their best to clear the ball and mount their own offensive strikes from deep in their defensive end but St. Benedict’s defense was equally up to the task. A quick counter attack by the Gray Bees resulted in a 4th goal as Malik Khan found himself with the ball at his feet inside the Sallies 18 yard box. After a number of clever moves he was able to sneak a left footed shot past the Sallies keeper with 32 minutes to go in the half. St Benedicts would add goal number 5 in the 56th minute of the game sending home a rebound off the post that landed just outside the 6 yard box.
The individual skills of the Gray Bees paired with their ability to execute and make decisions at an extremely fast pace proved to be too much for Sallies on this night as it has for most St. Benedict’s opponents over the past few years. However, there was no point in the match in which Salesianum showed any signs of giving up or giving any less than their best effort. The Sallies players played hard right up until the final whistle and will no doubt be a stronger team moving forward. They will look to rebound Wednesday evening when they rival St. Marks while St. Benedict’s Prep will play their next match on Tuesday in Princeton N.J.
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