After seeing their Henlopen South title hopes erode after dropping two straight games to Lake Forest and Delmar, the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team almost saw their playoffs hopes do the same after dropping two straight goals against district rival Sussex Central to start their Senior Night game on Thursday, May 12.
However, after the initial deficit, the Indians rallied back to a 20-5 win, to keep their chances at the tournament very much alive.
“We did want the South. We let Lake get away from us a little bit, and I take nothing away from Delmar — they played very well — but we didn’t bring our best that day,” said coach Dave Spencer. “Moving forward, we’re gonna go ahead and have our goal be the playoffs.”
While the Tribe looks well-positioned to make that goal a reality, their comeback against the Golden Knights was sparked with a gelling offense early on.
First, it was sophomore attackman Cole “The Machete” Josetti dishing to junior middie George “G-Mart” Martin, who immediately shot it back to Josetti, to hit a wide-open Josh “Pretty Flacko” Lucido for a quick-strike backdoor that got the Indians on the board.
Martin would tie it up after that, pinging that far corner on the rope on the run, to make it 2-2 with 5:58 left in the first quarter.
After Lucido’s diving go-ahead goal was called back on a crease violation, Josetti would then give the Tribe their first lead of the game, losing a defender on a hard-slice face dodge from up top and finding the back of the net one-on-one with the keeper.
“We knew that, once we got couple, we’d start to get into that zone, and we did,” said Spencer. “We know the type of team that we are — we’re gonna play fast.”
From that point on, it was all IR. And as the goals started rolling in — fast — they also got a whole lot prettier.
After Lucido put his second biscuit in the basket, scooping a loose ball up top, Josetti wowed the crowd on a behind-the-back score assisted by Martin — who, looking prepared to fire, had caught the Central “D” on their heels.
“I wanted one, but Cole got it for me,” Lucido said with a laugh of Josetti’s highlight-reel-worthy behind-the-back shot. “I think it’s just playing throughout the year and building that chemistry — they got those first two goals right in the beginning, and then kind of from then on we just put the foot to the pedal and kept on it.”
A last-second top-shelf score from junior attackman Gianni Gottschalk on a Sam Nitz clear pushed the lead to 6-2 with just two ticks to go in the first quarter, as the Indians dominated the next three quarters on both sides of the ball, to move to 7-6 on the season and 3-0 all-time against the Golden Knights.
“We just kept on them,” said senior LSM Erik Gulbronson of the defensive effort. “We didn’t let up any easy goals — no backdoor goals, or anything like that. I think that really shut them down.”
Junior middie Joey Ciriello put the icing on the cake, for the 20th goal of the game and his first on the season, with senior midfielder Jimmy Brannon netting his first score of the season in a 17-1 win over Delmarva Christian in their next game.
After their win over Wilmington Christian to cap the regular season, the Tribe was in the thick of the playoff hunt, waiting for the selection committee to meet on Saturday, May 21.
“The playoffs is our goal,” said Lucido. “We’ve got to keep playing hard but remember we’re here to have fun. We’re here for the team. Hopefully, we’ll go into the playoffs and get a good push.”
Goals: IR — W. Kovatch (5), G. Gottschalk (4), G. Martin (3), C. Josetti (3), J. Lucido (3), J. Ciriello (1), A. White (1) SC — J. Morris (2), R. Pearson (1), W. Wells (1), C. Holden (1)
Assists: IR — J. Lucido (7), G. Martin (5), C. Josetti (2), G. Gottschalk (2) SC — W. Wells (1), R. Pearson (1)
Saves: SC — J. Schmidt (17), IR — H. McWilliams (16)