Battle of the Unbeaten

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: IR junior forward Oscar Cruz and Central’s Elbert Reyez Matus are ready to battle for a loose ball.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: IR junior forward Oscar Cruz and Central’s Elbert Reyez Matus are ready to battle for a loose ball.While control of the midfield swayed throughout the match, one goal would determine the outcome of the game when the 4-0 Indian River High School soccer team and 4-0 Sussex Central High School soccer team faced off on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

That goal came in the 51st minute, when IR senior defender Andrew White sent a ball to senior forward Johan Cordoba, who got out in front of the Central defense and found himself one-on-one with the keeper.

“I knew I had to finish it,” Cordoba said of his chance in the back-and-forth battle.

“I saw Andrew with the ball, running down the line, and I knew he was going to pass it. I just got lucky that the ball got to me, took a touch, and then I just booked it to goal.”

After attempting to push Central keeper Watson Dorsinvil left, Cordoba would push the ball to the right, sending it through to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage and the eventual 1-0 victory.

The win kept the Indians at a perfect 5-0 on the season, while at the same time spoiling a previously perfect record for the Golden Knights, as they fell to 4-1.

“That was a great win for us. They were 4-0. They wanted to beat us and stay undefeated, so it was intense,” said junior midfielder Wilbert Gomez, who knows the rivalry from both sides, after transferring from Sussex Central to Indian River for his sophomore season.

“I’ve got a lot of friends at Central. The trash talk between us is pretty intense, but friendly and joking around. They came out and played hard. I respect that.”

While four saves from IR senior keeper Kevin Calles and six from Dorsinvil were key, another major impact on the game was the Indians lining up without midfielder Mac Smith, who they’ll be without for the next several weeks as he recovers from a foot injury suffered against Cape Henlopen on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

While IR head coach Steve Kilby had to do some shuffling of the lineup for the game, losing a senior captain like Smith for any period of time certainly takes its toll.

“Mac is very good on the ball and a very calming influence. It would have been great to have him in this game,” said Kilby. “He would have been another valuable weapon for us to use in helping control the game sooner, probably.

“Central is having a great year. We struggled with their energy in the first half, but we kind of got things sorted out in the second half.”

In Smith’s absence, senior forward Mikie Mochiam will move back into his role, and the Indians will also look to some younger players, such as sophomore Luke McCabe.

While they hope to have him back in time f or the playoffs — and a run at a third state championship — Smith or no, the Indians aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves, despite their 5-0 start.

“We’re feeling great, but we’ve gotta keep pushing,” said Gomez. “We can’t let up at all. We gotta keep going forward.”

Up next, the team was looking to make it 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Henlopen South in hosting Lake Forest (4-1, 1-1) on Thursday, Oct. 6, (after Coastal Point press time). After that, they’ll take on Sussex Tech (3-3) at home on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m.

While the Golden Knights suffered their first loss of the season, they remain unbeaten in the Henlopen North, at 2-0. They were set to travel to Cape Henlopen (4-4-1) on Thursday, Oct. 6.

Game stats:

Goals: IR - J. Cordoba (1)
Assists: IR - A. White (1)
Saves: SC - W. Dorsinvil (6), IR - K. Calles - 4