It was a strange week for surfaces for the Indian River High School soccer team.
After getting the season started with back-to-back home games on the natural grass at IRHS’s soccer stadium, the Indians adjusted to a smaller size of field at Delmar on Thursday, March 30, before taking to the turf at Cape Henlopen on Tuesday, April 4, for the “Kilby Clash” between the teams coached by IR head coach Steve Kilby and his son, Cape head coach Pat Kilby.
Surface tension or no, however, the Indians would still pull out wins in both games, downing Delmar 2-0 and Cape 4-0 to improve to 3-1 on the season.
“We struggled with the weight of our passes at first, but we adjusted to that in the second half a little bit, I think,” said Steve Kilby, who had his squad practice on the Bermuda grass at River Soccer Club last week in preparation for the six-game road series.
“It’s always fun to play against Kilby’s son,” added IR senior forward Maddie Hogsten of the “Kilby Clash” matchup. “He used to be all of our coaches when we were younger.”
After Tuesday’s game went scoreless for the first 24 minutes, the Indians got the scoring sparked when freshman forward Avery Congleton played a ball in to junior forward Zena Lowman, who broke away for a one-on-one with Cape keeper Lucy Siranides.
“I thought I had it too wide,” said Lowman of her second career goal for the Indians after transferring from Sussex Tech for her junior campaign. “Avery passed it out to me, and I got a breakaway, got it around the goalie.”
While Siranides would finish the day with 20 saves, Lowman would gather the second goal of the game just before the break, when Hogsten took a ball all the way down the far sideline and crossed it in front of the goal to make it 2-0.
“They stayed really organized in front of their goal, so that was a bit tough to crack, going directly at them,” said Kilby of the Cape defense early on. “We focused some on playing wide and getting around the back, and that’s how the first two goals came.”
“I think once we got the first goal, we started to pick up and realized that the game was ours,” added junior midfielder Sammi Whelen.
Hogsten would manage her own score in half No. 2, when Whelen intercepted an inbound pass and wove through Cape defenders to find Hogsten out in front.
The fourth and final score would come in the 59th minute, when, after moving to striker, senior Maggie Ford was tripped up in the box and Hogsten took the PK to make it 4-0. Hogsten now has 85 goals on her career, with just 15 to go to become the second player in IRHS soccer program history to reach 100.
Defensively, the unit of senior Paige Troublefield, sophomores Mackenzie Gorey and Grace Engel, and freshman Kayley Belzner kept the Vikings at bay.
The Indians also saw contributions from some of their younger players, including freshmen Avery and Saylor Congleton.
“Paige and Grace and Mac are really stepping up in the middle,” said Whelen. “I think the freshmen are starting to get some experience that they needed. Avery and Saylor, I thought, played awesome today.”
“They showed some really nice sparks,” added Kilby. “Mackenize Gorey was huge back there, Kayley Belzner continues to improve and impress, and Jordy Hogsten continues to improve as well. It’s a bright spot for the future, that’s for sure.”
At 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the Henlopen South division, the Indians were setting their sights on another South opponent as they headed up to Milford on Thursday, April 6, (after Coastal Point press time), for a 4 p.m. matchup.
They’ll then gear up for a game against Sussex Tech on Tuesday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m., a game that will have some added meaning this season with the addition of Lowman.
“I’m really hype going into the game,” said the Tech transfer. “I’m excited. I can’t wait.”
Goals: IR — M. Hogsten (2), Z. Lowman (2)
Assists: IR — A. Congleton (1), M. Hogsten (1), S. Whelen (1)
Saves: Cape — L. Siranides (20), K. Belzner (1)