After heading into halftime down 10-5, the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team would manage a second-half surge to eventually go up 16-14, only to see the Sussex Technical High School Ravens mount their own comeback and eventually seal a 17-16 win with just 18 seconds to go, on a score from freshman attackman Patrick Short.
“It’s a game of runs, and you just hope you’re running at the right time,” said IR coach Dave Spencer, noting that his squad was understandably devastated after the rivalry loss and tale of two comebacks.
“We had a two-goal lead and the ball, and a couple mental breakdowns ended up costing us, but you can’t deny that the effort was there. The effort was absolutely there, and we’re proud of our guys. They play hard, and they never quit.”
The Indians dug themselves out of the first-half hole early after the break, taking the lead after what was once a seven-goal deficit, on a shot from senior midfielder George “G-Mart” Martin, to make it 11-10.
Four straight saves from Tech junior keeper Hunter Severs would keep them off the board on the next possession, with IR senior goalie Hayden McWilliams answering back with a pointblank save of his own on an ensuing fast break, before Tech’s Ben Westbrook tied things back up on a well-placed shot in the net’s top right corner.
It was Martin again making it 12-11, going on to find Cole “The Machete” Josetti on the back door with 2:23 left in the third, to push the lead to 13-11.
After getting the ball back at the “X” on a face-off win from IR senior midfielder Sam Nitz, the G-Mart scoring rampage would continue, the senior captain dodging defenders from up top and making it 14-11. But despite another stop from McWilliams with 39 ticks to go, the Ravens would manage to cut the lead to 14-12 with a score just before the third-quarter buzzer.
IR senior midfielder Max Stong would create the first goal of the final 15 minutes, taking a man from up top and managing a shot on goal that was finished by junior attackman Wyatt Kovatch.
“We all knew what we had to do. It only took one goal to get us going,” said Josetti of the halftime turnaround, which has been a trend for the Indians this season.
The teams traded extra-man opportunities after that, Josetti putting the Indians up 16-13 on a doorstep score with 8:26 left.
But the Ravens would eventually reclaim the mojo with time winding down, tying things up on a goal from junior midfielder Nathaniel Quillin just under the two-minute mark, before letting the clock run on their next possession and Short adding the game-winner with just 18 seconds left.
“Unfortunately, a couple of small little errors decided it for us,” said Josetti. “We started slow, and then we came back, like we’ve done in the past. We just couldn’t hold it off.”
Josetti, who finished the day with four goals and an assist, was honored before the game with the game ball from his 100th career score, which had come in the Indians’ previous game, against Milford on May 3.
“I didn’t know it was my 100th until they told me,” said Josetti of the milestone. “I knew it was coming up soon. George and I this year are trying together to combine for 200 [points], so it’s definitely a nice milestone.”
“Cole’s just a terrific player — he’s a selfless player. He makes the right play at the right time, regardless of who he’s throwing the ball to, because he knows that it’s the right play at the right time,” added Spencer. “He’s a student of the game and one of the hardest-working guys at practice, and this just shows that. It’s just a terrific accomplishment for him.”
Finishing with four goals and two assists on the day, Martin was just 10 points shy of reaching his own milestone — the 300-career points (goals and assists combined) mark on his career.
Both Kovatch and senior attackman Giannia Gottschalk capped the game with hat-tricks for the Indians (Kovatch also adding three assists and Gottschalk adding one), while Stong finished with two goals and two assists, and McWilliams racked up 18 saves in the matchup.
Tech improved to 4-7 on the season with the loss, while the Indians fell to 8-5, still needing to win out their next two games and get a little help in their hopes of clinching what would be a program-first Henlopen South title.
After Wednesday’s game against Lake Forest (after Coastal Point press time), they’ll host Delmar in their final game of the season on Wednesday, May 17, which will also be the team’s Senior Night, starting at 5:30 p.m.
IR lax season stats:
Goals — G. Martin (58), C. Josetti (56), W. Kovatch (48), G. Gottschalk (19), M. Stong (10), A. White (10), J. Arlett (1), G. Bomhardt (1), J. Ciriello (1), W.Gomez (1), Z. Schultz (1)
Assists: G. Martin (48), C. Josetti (26), G. Gottschalk (18), A. White (16), W. Kovatch (15), M. Stong (5), G. Bomhardt (1), J. Martin (1)
Saves: H. McWilliams (190), S. Milten (4)
FO: S. Nitz (137/169, 81%), J. Arlett (19-27, 70%)
Henlopen South standings:
1. Milford (8-3, 4-1)
2. Indian River (8-5, 3-1)
3. Delmar (3-8, 1-2)
4. Lake Forest (3-8, 0-4)