Indians knock off Riders in season-opener

Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Oscar Cruz goes for a header against a Caesar Rodney player in Indian River’s 3-1 win over the Riders on Tuesday, Sept. 13.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Oscar Cruz goes for a header against a Caesar Rodney player in Indian River’s 3-1 win over the Riders on Tuesday, Sept. 13.It hadn’t been done since 2013.

That’s the year that the Indian River High School soccer team downed Henlopen North powerhouse Caesar Rodney twice — not only in the same season, but the same week, the first victory coming in a regular-season matchup on Oct. 26 and the second for the Henlopen Conference championship just seven days later.

The Indians’ 2016 defending state championship squad, however, was looking for some redemption after they fell to the Riders 4-0 in their opener last season. And on Tuesday, Sept. 13, they got just that, with a 3-1 decision to start off the season 1-0.

“Any time we can win, that’s a plus. Any time we can beat CR, that’s a huge plus,” said head coach Steve Kilby of the rivalry matchup that every year could very well end up as a preview of the HAC championship game. “It’s a huge opponent to start a season with.”

The Indians struck first, when senior midfielder Johan Cordoba sent a ball to senior forward Mikie Mochiam, who then sent it to the back of the net in just the 13th minute, to go up 1-0.

“We usually have that type of chemistry where he passes the ball and run off of it,” Mochiam explained of the score. “Johan gave me the nod, and I ran off of it. He tipped it, it was a pretty good tip and I just kind of had my tippy toes on it.”

It was one of three assists on the day for Cordoba, who would set up junior forward Oscar Cruz in the second half for a score, to make it 2-0, and senior midfielder Mac Smith in the 48th minute, who buried the insurance goal.

“We knew not to settle for one goal. If we settled, we lower the intensity, and we had to keep it up,” said senior goalkeeper Kevin Calles. Caesar Rodney “played a high intensity game — they always do. They’re one of those teams where you gotta keep your head up. One little mistake, and it’s a goal.”

The Riders would eventually get on the board to avoid the shutout, on a well-placed shot from junior Thomas McPoyle that sailed just over the outstretched arms of Calles in the 71st minute.

According to Kilby, the shot was virtually un-savable and, overall, he was impressed with Calles’ debut between the pipes after taking over for All-State keeper Ian Walls and racking up four saves in the contest.

“He did a really solid job,” Kilby said of Calles. “The goal we gave up was one that no goalie’s probably gonna save.”

The win put the Indians at 1-0 on the season, headed into their road matchup against division opponent Delmar on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 5:30 p.m.

While that will be the first game on the way to checking off their season’s first checkmark — winning the Henlopen South — Kilby and his squad aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves.

“We’re taking it game by game,” Calles explained. “We have pretty high expectations for ourselves.”

Game stats:

Goals: M. Mochiam (1), O. Cruz (1), M. Smith (1)
Assists: J. Cordoba (3)
Saves: K. Calles (4)