Senior Luke D’Ambrogi had his head on a swivel during post-game interviews June 6 as he stood on the new green turf at Caesar Rodney High School. There was just too much going on and electricity was in the air. Luke’s focus was fleeting.
Cape had just beaten Salesianum 12-10 to win the DIAA state championship of boys’ lacrosse. When asked how many assists he thought he had in the game, Luke replied, “I have no idea about any of that. I just know those numbers up on the scoreboard, 12-10. We won.”
D’Ambrogi had two goals and five assists in the game for seven points. His assist to Gabe Best one second before halftime gave Cape a 4-3 advantage. The Vikings never lost the lead and would extend it to 8-3 after a 4-0 third-quarter run. But 10-time state champion Salesianum came roaring back in the fourth period, playing make-it, take-it on face-offs and tightening the game to 8-6, then 10-8 and finally 12-10.
The state championship was the seventh for the Cape boys since the tournament began in 1993. Salesianum and Cape have met in the finals six times, each with three wins.
“The game started slowly. I think the heat had something to do with it,” said coach Mark D’Ambrogi. “Both teams like to push it. Although it was a low-scoring first half, we felt OK being up a goal.”
Defensive coach Jack Lingo, who was the head coach in 2014, the last time Cape beat Salesianum in a state final, said, “We went to a zone in the fourth quarter because it worked well in the second, but they kept getting people open. Baxter [Travers] had an incredible game in goal, making some real-deal saves and was helped by a couple of pipes. I mean that’s a lot coming at a first-year starter.”
Travers, a happy hippie personality type with his hair chopped for the game, looked stunned to serious after the game. “I’m just trying to take it all in, from the game to the fans, who were just incredible,” he said. “I know I will never forget this.”
Coach Lingo added, “Billy Ott, Jaden Davis and Andre Currie just battled on that face-off line the entire game. And Brody [McMahon], Ben [Weathersby] and Matt [Prestipino] played great on defense.”
Cape called timeout when Sallies closed the gap to 8-6. Back out on the pitch, it was senior middies JP Heid and Luke D’Ambrogi who pushed the lead back to 10-6. But Sallies answered with two quick goals to make the score 10-8.
Cape once again responded with goals from Jack Dennis, his third of the game, and Blake Gipko, who stepped into his left-handed crank shot and let it rip, pushing the lead to 12-8.
“No doubt that is my shot,” Gipko said after the game. “None of us thought the game was over until the clock ran out.”
Sallies came back again, closing to 12-10, but a chirping penalty gave Cape the ball without going to face-off, and the Vikings ran the clock down to zero.
“Just an incredible feeling winning the game, and our fans were amazing. It’s just hard to put into words,” Dennis said. His hat trick was all the words needed in a two-goal victory for a state championship.
Other Cape scorers included Best, D’Ambrogi and Greg Boyce each with two, while Adem Tekmen, Heid and Gipko each had one.
Cape assists were D’Ambrogi with five, Dennis with two and Tekmen with one.
Salesianum goals were scored by Christopher Wong with three, Logan Falconetti with two and Brady McGovern, Sean Garrison, Chad Cannon, Dylan Mooney and Colby Bushweller each with one.
Notes: Caesar Rodney was gracious to host the state championship game. DIAA needed more ticket sellers. Most fans arrived on time, but didn’t get into the game until the second quarter. Cape players who lost to Sallies in the 1995 state final were at the game, including coaches Jack Lingo and Spencer Steele, and also Jack Frederick and Paul Camenisch. The Cape girls and boys won state lacrosse titles in the same season for only the second time. The first was in 2014.