Conference Champs … X3!

Head coach Steve Kilby’s “short list” keeps getting shorter.

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell : Junior midfielder Wilberth Gomez goes for a loose ball during the second half of Monday’s HAC Championship game.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell : Junior midfielder Wilberth Gomez goes for a loose ball during the second half of Monday’s HAC Championship game.After checking off the first item on that list with a Henlopen Southern division championship, the Indian River High School boys’ soccer team checked off item number 2 with 3-0 win over Sussex Central in the Henlopen Conference Championship game on Monday, Nov. 7.

Despite the game’s convincing final, however, in the midst of one of their most successful seasons in recent history, the North champion Golden Knights challenged early on.

“We prepared for the pace that they play,” said Kilby of a fast-paced Sussex Central squad. “We focused on speed of play and attacking the flanks.”

“We had to keep [Dalendy Dupervill] out in front of us and make sure he didn’t turn on us because he has a lot of speed,” added senior forward Mikie Mochiam of trying to contain the team’s leading goal scorer.

After battling at midfield for the game’s first 26 minutes, senior forward Johan Cordoba opened up the scoring, bending a left-footed free kick past the keeper to put the Indians 1-0.

Then, just 34 seconds later, Cordoba would get the ball back, playing it to Mochiam who sent it to senior midfielder Mac Smith then junior midfielder Wilberth Gomez before the ball found its way back to Mochiam in stride to bury his chance.

“Things just started to play out the way we wanted them to,” Cordoba said of the back to back scores. “Everything was just working out how we practiced it.”

Adding to the offensive efficiency, was co-captain Mac Smith returning to the lineup after being sidelined by a foot injury for the past six weeks.

“I was a little shaky at first but it was good to be back on the field,” he said.

Cordoba would go on to score his second goal early in the second half to make it 3-0 and put the game all but out of reach, with IR senior goal keeper Kevin Calles racking up 10 saves as the Golden Knights tried to play catch-up.

“They had to start chasing the game. That made us easier to find a little more space to play in,” explained Kilby.

After the game, both teams were presented with division championship trophies, and Sussex Central head coach Kevin Cash named Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Golden Knights from a 9-5-1 record in 2015 to a 13-3 record this season.

For Kilby and the Indians however, the senior class has now played in the title game every year since they were freshman and the game was enacted in 2013, winning it for the second straight year and the third time during their careers.

“For some of these guys this is an opportunity of a lifetime, three out of four years — no one’s ever done that at Indian River High School,” said IR Principal Bennett Murray after the game. “I’m very proud of these young men to come out here on a cold night and get the win but they know just as well as I do that we still have one left to go.”

That one objective left to go on their “short list” is of course what’s always their ultimate goal, bring home the DIAA state championship.

They’ll have an opportunity to win their third state title as well when they enter the DIAA Div. II tournament as the no. 1 seed and take on no. 8 Caravel on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Milford at 5 p.m.

“There’s one more check mark left on the list,” said Smith. “We’ve just got to maintain our focus.”