It was what Indian River High School assistant field hockey coach Molly Chamberlin would later describe as “one of the first times that they had really been tested,” since the team’s opening matchup against Sussex Tech.
But leading the Henlopen North’s Smyrna 1-0 on Thursday, Sept. 28, the IR field hockey team defense and junior goalkeeper Mya Parks held the Eagles’ offensive attack at bay, despite penalty strokes and lopsided time of possession, to start the season 4-0.
“I did not want them to score at all,” Parks said of the particularly palpable tension at the end of the game, with the Eagles knocking on the door and looking for the equalizer.
“It definitely helps, having a good defense to bring the nerves down. Maggie [Ford], Sammi [Whelen] and Mac[kenzie Gorey] — I know that I can count on them. I know they’re going to be there. They had to get through all of them before it got to me.”
“We called a time out, got them settled and pointed out a few things, and they just went in and they played smart hockey,” Stone added of Smyrna’s second-half surge. “We had a few opportunities that we just didn’t capitalize on, but that happens in the game of hockey. You just readjust and do what you need to do.”
The Indians had taken the 1-0 lead early in the game’s first half, when senior forward Lexi Haden found the net for the fourth time this season.
The goal was set up when sophomore midfielder Keirstyn Hassler sent a pass to senior forward and recent State Farm Clutch Player of the Week Madi McGee, who had her shot broken up, and with the Smyrna keeper playing out of position. Haden would eventually end up with the ball, showing off some of her seasoned senior know-how by recognizing the move and scooping it over top for what would be the game’s only score.
While the Eagles would keep the ball on their end for the rest of the half’s majority and continue to pressure in the second, eight saves from Parks ensured the shutout and the win.
The victory was not only Stone’s first over Smyrna since taking over the program in 2013, but made for the Indians’ most successful start during not only that stretch but recent memory as well.
“This has been in the master plan since the beginning. We just keep building,” Stone said after the game. “I just told the girls that everything was coming together. I thanked them, because this was a successful win. We have great assistant coaches, and the girls are working hard — they made it happen. They are really a focused group.”
While the team’s win streak was snapped in a 2-0 road loss to 2015 DIAA semi-finalist Polytech, the team was gearing up this week to host Dover on Thursday, Sept. 29, (after Coastal Point press time), and ready to continue taking the program to the next level.
“I don’t pay attention to who we’ve we beat in the past or not. If we beat them now is what matters to me,” said Parks. “We’re going to work on some stuff that we need to work on at practice, and we’re just going to go from there.”