After a spring-break stumble against Dover last month, the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team has since regained their early-season mojo, winning two out of their last three and currently controlling their own destiny for what would be the program’s first-ever Henlopen South title headed into their Wednesday, May 3, matchup at Milford (after Coastal Point press time).
Before their 18-6 victory over the Golden Knights in a district rivalry on Friday, April 29, and 13-10 conference loss over Smyrna on Monday, May 1, the team saw their turning point in a 14-10 comeback win at Delmar on Wednesday, April 26.
“We had never won on that field,” said assistant coach Dave Spencer. “I’m proud of our guys, the way that the responded. That was a character win.”
Down 8-5 at the half, the Indians burst out of the third-quarter gate with four-straight goals, to take a 9-5 lead.
The Wildcats would eventually tie things back up at 12-12, but two goals from senior midfielder George “G-Mart” Martin in the game’s final 41 seconds gave the Indians the win and control of the division.
“At halftime we said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to change a thing. We believe in you guys. We’ve set you guys up to work hard and be in the right spot, so when the ball comes around you know what to do with it,’” Spencer went on. “Second-half opportunities came back around, and we started hitting some shots and we regained the momentum.”
“I definitely think we found our confidence again during that last game,” added senior defenseman Griffin McCormick. “It really all started with everybody talking, offensive and defensive communicating and being loud on our side and getting everybody hyped-up.”
That confidence was put on display when they Indians traveled to Georgetown to take on the Knights on Friday, May 28, jumping out to a quick lead on their way to an eventual 18-6 victory.
Junior attackman Wyatt Kovatch led the Indians with five goals in that game, with senior attackman Gianni Gottschalk and junior attackman Cole “The Machete” Josetti slicing through the Central defense for four goals and four assists.
Senior midfielders Andrew White and Max Stong also added goals for the Indians during the win, while Martin finished the day with four goals and six assists.
Senior goalkeeper Hayden McWilliams racked up 15 saves as the defensive unit of McCormick, sophomore Patrick Spencer and freshman Ethan Forrey held the Knights to just six scores.
Forrey has seen a starting role as a freshman since the Indians lost senior Michael Cedano to a mid-season injury, with seniors Jordan Mears and Jarrett Lowrance also working their way into the rotation to help seal the win.
“Everybody that came in on defense played really well,” said McCormick. “We made some adjustments after the Delmar game, and I think it gave us a good building block for the rest of the season, that we were able to carry that into this game.”
Despite the lopsided score, as always, the district battle between the two Route 113 schools held its fair share of elevated intensity.
“It’s just like soccer,” said IR junior midfielder Wilberth Gomez, who transferred from Central after his freshman season. “We go back and forth, talking a little trash, and try to see who can pull out the win, but we’re all friends — there’s definitely a lot of respect.”
“The kids look forward to it,” added Spencer. “They always have some great athletes at Sussex Central, and you know they’re going to play hard — you know they’re always going to bring their ‘A game.’”
After Monday’s last-minute loss at Smyrna, the Indians were sitting at 8-3 overall on the season and 3-0 in the South.
Martin’s two goals and four assists in that game put him at 280 career points, just 20 points to go to eclipse the 300 mark in his career.
While they’ve already tied the program record for wins headed into their final four games of the regular season, their goals to continue making school history have yet to change since stepping out on the field during the pre-season.
“We have our goals set for this year, and you just keep your eyes on the prize. That’s the biggest thing,” said Spencer. “These guys all root for each other, and they all back each other up. It’s a brotherhood. They really care about each other, on and off the field, and it shows.”
Up next, the Indians will go for yet another program first when they take on Sussex Tech on Friday, May 5, at 5:30 p.m. That game will be played at the Indian River High School football stadium.
Henlopen South Standings:
1. Indian River (7-3, 3-0)
2. Milford (7-1, 3-1)
3. Delmar (3-7, 1-2)
4. Lake Forest (3-6, 0-4)
Goals: G. Martin (53), C. Josetti (48), W. Kovatch (42), G. Gottschalk (16), A. White (10), M. Stong (6), J. Arlett (1), G. Bomhardt (1), J. Ciriello (1), W.Gomez (1), Z. Schultz (1)
Assists: G. Martin (43), C. Josetti (23), G. Gottschalk (17), A. White (14), W. Kovatch (12), M. Stong (3), G. Bomhardt (1), J. Martin (1)
Saves: H. McWilliams (153), S. Milten (4)
FO: S. Nitz (137/169, 81%), J. Arlett (19-27, 70%)
*As of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, May 3