We almost had to call the spring edition of the “Tribe Top 10” the “Tribe Top 20.”
With nine varsity sports going on at Indian River High School, the Selbyville Middle School girls’ soccer team pulling off their second-straight undefeated season, the SMS track team breaking school records and the SMS softball team staying unbeaten to the very last extra-inning out of their very last game, it’s been a busy couple of months for both the Indians and certain local sports reporter, to say the least.
There’s, of course, also been plenty of “Not Top Ten”-type moments, mostly made by yours truly, that — much like every spring — I’ll probably never live down during long-sideline walks in front of the bleachers.
Some of those moments included, but were by no means limited to: that time the Henlopen Conference scheduled the girls’ soccer title game on the same day as the IR girls’ lacrosse banquet and caused the previously mentioned reporter to miss out on his fair share of spaghetti and meatballs catered by Bear Trap Dunes.
“Top Ten”-wise, however, here’s the best of the best, and also some of the best of the worst, from Spring 2017, meatballs or no:
(10) Jacob Anderson’s first-official IR homerun that totally counted as a homerun
It looked like it was going to be a pop-up, then it just kept going.
After starting the season against three top-ranked teams, the Indian River High School baseball team needed a win headed into their division-matchup against Seaford earlier this season, but sophomore CF Jacob Anderson got them going on the right foot as he lined one off the right foot of a Seaford outfielder that eventually ended in an inside-the-park homerun still inside-the-first-inning.
Despite some jesting jabs from teammates after the game, on the assist from the wind, the play would go down as a homerun in the stat book and totally counted as Anderson’s first home-run at IR.
Also Top Ten: The Indians would go to a 9-1 win in that game,, while Anderson would go on to another Top Ten-worthy play with a hat-less sliding grab in center against Dover later in the season, which was pretty cool, too.
(9) ‘The Z-Factor’ AKA ‘Z for Vendetta’
While IR girls’ soccer team junior forward and Sussex Tech transfer Zena Lowman doesn’t exactly have a “V for Vendetta”-type stigma when it comes to her former squad, that didn’t stop her from going “Z for Vendetta” on the Ravens when the Indians faced them earlier this season.
Lowman put the Indians up 1-0 in that matchup early on, proving to be the “Z-factor” in the eventual 2-1 win. (Madison Hogsten would score the game-winner late for an equally as Top Ten-worthy play.)
Not Top Ten, though: A certain sports reporter opted for a last-minute headline change from “The Z-Factor” to “Z for Vendetta” despite the general fan consensus prior to deadline suggesting different, which, according to head coach Steve Kilby, was very much a play for the “Not Top Ten: Spring 2017” edition.
(8) B-I-N-G-O Izzy Binko
Plenty of plays from the SMS girls’ soccer team’s historic run this season could have cracked the Top Ten this spring, but eighth-grader Izzy Binko’s goal off a corner kick in their final matchup against Millsboro was as an impressive as they come.
The Indians were up 2-0 fresh off a score from eighth-grade forward Sia Diakos in the first half of that game when Binko sent a winding corner kick past the crowd in front of the cage that went untouched and perfectly-placed into the net’s top right corner.
Also Top Ten: Of course, going undefeated for the second-straight season and for the first time in program history was also pretty incredible in and of itself.
(7) Damya Williams gets a little help from her friends
It was just last week that the Indian River High School softball team found themselves less than two innings away from a first-round playoff win over Red Lion and ticket to the DIAA quarterfinals.
While acrobatic grabs from junior CF Julia Bomhardt and a heads-up play in the circle from sophomore pitcher Nicole Patille would prove just as clutch in those innings, junior RF Damya Williams braved the sideline fence for a close-call grab to get things started in the bottom of the sixth.
Williams didn’t take all the credit, taking the Paul McCartney/John Lennon route and citing that she couldn’t have pulled it off if she didn’t “have a little help from her friends,” in the form of fans along the fence letting her know where she was before making the play.
Also Top Ten: Two games later, in the DIAA semi-finals, Williams didn’t need any help aside from her glove to follow up the catch with another snag in right for another Top Ten play.
(6) Nitz on a Tantrum
In addition to the ‘Z-Factor,’ we also saw the ‘X-Factor’ this spring — as in the factor at the faceoff ‘X’ for the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team from senior Sam Nitz.
The NCAA-bound specialist earned First Team All-Conference honors this season, where he started his first five games by going 85 for 91 total face-offs, with a success rate of 93 percent. No wonder he was First Team All-Conference.
Also Top Ten: Senior LSM Joey Ciriello also earned All-Conference honors as a specialist for the Indians this season, scoring the final Senior Night goal against Delmar this season, just like he did last season on Senior Night against Sussex Central.
(5) ‘Parks and Celebration!’ — Mya Park saves the day against Sussex Academy
Much like Batman himself, goalkeepers can often find themselves the hero that their team needs or in the movie long enough to see themselves become the villain.
Junior goalie Mya Parks would find herself the hero when Indian River High School girls’ lacrosse team needed her to be, up 9-8 on rival Sussex Academy earlier this spring.
With time winding down, Parks was the last line of defense on a last-minute chance from the Seahawks, making the save and saving the day in the game’s final seconds.
Not Top Ten, though: The most excited team member after the final buzzer was undoubtedly a coach — as in the Indians’ fearless leader, Kelsea “Captain Blood” Ayers. Coach A’s enthusiasm for her team you have to admire, but a certain sports reporter is throwing the unofficial flag for excessive celebration (mostly for reasons of making up for the flowery farewell dedicated in her honor a couple weeks back and needing to get in one last good good-hearted riff on Captain B. with chances running out before she launches her collegiate coaching career that we’re all ready to be proud to see unfold and say, “I knew her when”… even if that sentence ends in “…when she was making me run all those post-victory wind-sprints”).
(4) Madi McGee’s walk-off winner, courtesy of the weight room
She’s been a key contributor for the Indian River High School softball team in a starting role since her freshman season, but prior to her senior campaign, 2B Madi McGee wouldn’t have classified herself as much of a “power hitter.”
But McGee earned power-hitter status after spending the off-season hitting the weight room, notching her first career homer against Sussex Tech.
The very next night, McGee would tack on her second career homer, that time for a walk-off win against Milford.
Not Top Ten, though: All the cover-shot snags at second that a certain sports reporter missed while bouncing back and forth to the baseball field.
(3) Lexi Haden’s OT-sender/OT-winner against Tech
I was actually off covering yet another Top Ten moment when this one went down, but thankfully, when IR Girls’ Lacrosse Boosters President Sherry Brannon isn’t exploding hotdog carts and not selling officially licensed umbrellas at the concession stand, she’s spinning proper-enough yarns regarding game-winning moments that make you feel like you weren’t just there in spirit.
According to Sherry: Senior midfielder Lexi Haden had just tied things up to send the Indians into overtime against also-rival Sussex Tech. Then, after getting sidelined with an injury at the start of sudden death, she re-entered the game as soon as she was medically cleared, hauled in a pass from junior midfielder Delaney Brannon, and went in for the score to give the Indians the 11-10 win in dramatic fashion.
Not Top Ten, though: That time that Sherry Brannon exploded the hotdog cart at the concession stand.
(2) G-Mart goes ‘300’ on everyone
This one I was there to both witness first-hand and live to tell the tale.
With 296 career-points headed into the final-quarter of one of his final career game for the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team, senior midfielder George Martin got the green light to “go out there and get it done” — “it” being becoming the first player in program history to hit the 300 mark.
He may not have actually shouted, “This is Sparta” against, somewhat ironically, the Lake Forest Spartans, but he might as well have, as “G-Mart” went on to score the next four points at will to go down in the school’s record books.
Also Top Ten: In his final career game for the Indians, Martin followed up his helmet-less football run against Sussex Tech this past fall by nearly losing his lid against Delmar this past spring, but still went on to shake off defenders and score one behind-the-back before finally adjusting his chin strap.
(1) Maddie Hogsten’s 100th… 115th… 119th…
Also setting a new all-time scoring record during her senior season — this time for the IR girls’ soccer team — was forward Maddie Hogsten.
Before surpassing former teammate Brooke Beam’s program-record of 114 goals in a game against Dover, Hogsten became the second player in IR soccer history to join the 100-goals club in a game against Laurel (if you’ve been following along this whole time, this is what I was doing when I missed Lexi Haden’s game-winner against Tech).
After two near-scores while stuck on No. 99, the 100-ball actually came on a chance where Hogsten thought she didn’t have the angle enough to get it into the net while full-stride with a Laurel defender.
She’d score not only that one, but 19 more after that, to go down as the program’s all-time leader.
Also Top Ten: Kind of a cathartic-type situation when Hogsten ended the game by passing the symbolic torch and assisting freshman Rylie Cordrey on her first career goal to cap the night.