Appoquinimink stops Salesianum's in-state soccer win streak

Kevin Tresolini
Delaware News Journal

MIDDLETOWN – Appoquinimink High ended one of the state’s longest stretches of sports dominance at Jaguars Stadium on Thursday night.

But a more important task still remains.

For now, Appo can know a 3-0 soccer victory over Salesianum certainly puts it in position to possibly topple the Sals when the state tournament rolls around later this fall.

The Jaguars (4-0) controlled play from the outset and scored twice in the first nine minutes to exert command. Hindovei Tucker’s second goal in the final quarter erased any worry.

Appoquinimink's Hindovei Tucker (10), celebrates with Mekhai Nash (17) after scoring the first goal of their 3-0 win over Salesianum Thursday Oct. 29, 2020.

“We wanted it for as long as we could remember,” said Appo senior midfielder Cody Niggebrugge. “We were very hungry. Our whole team was hyped.”

Salesianum had won 57 straight games against in-state competition dating to a 2-0 loss at Appoquinimink on Oct. 14, 2014. The Sals avenged that defeat in that year’s state semifinals.

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The Sals' statewide dominance is even longer. Salesianum (2-1) has won 10 straight state soccer championships, including Division I title-game wins over Appoquinimink in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Appo’s anticipated shot at Salesianum last year, after a 3-2 regular-season defeat, was ruined by Caesar Rodney in the Riders' 2-1 semifinal win over the Jaguars.

“We’ve got a senior-heavy team,” said Appo coach Adam Bear. “With COVID, we really didn’t have much of a preseason, but I already knew where all these guys would be playing. So that made it a lot easier. We played well.”

Tucker gave Appo a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute when he buried a free kick from 30 yards out into the back of the net.

“I was focusing on the goal and I just made up my mind to kick it straight at the goal, so I did it,” Tucker said. “I was confident.”

Four minutes later, Niggebrugge finished off Aidan McDade’s corner kick that looped into a mob in front of the net to make it 2-0.

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Appo nearly made it 3-0 before halftime when Colby Niggebrugge drilled a shot that hit the post. The Niggebrugge twins attended Salesianum as freshmen before transferring to Appo.

Colby Niggebrugge later headed away a booming free kick by Callaghan Walsh from 40 yards away that had dangerous intent. He then took away the ball in the penalty area on another Sallies threat to ignite the counter-attack that led to Tucker’s second strike.

Keegan Miller, before leaving with an arm injury, T.J. Hastings, Benjamin Mayhew and Mekhai Nash sparked the Appo defense and kept goalkeeper Andrew Lancour from being severely tested.

“We’re not done yet,” said Colby Niggebrugge. “We just wanted to get one back.”

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