It was a tale of two halves when the Indian River High School and Sussex Academy girls’ lacrosse teams met for the first time, on Thursday, May 12.
The pioneer programs had taken turns trading goals early on, with IR riding a 5-3 lead headed into the break. But after the Seahawks cut that lead to 6-5 early in half No. 2, the budding rivalry would end there, with the Indians stringing together nine unanswered goals and clinching a 14-5 win to send their only senior — captain Emiley Shuey — out in style.
“Emiley has always had our back,” said sophomore Helen Davis after the game. “I know that all the girls wanted to win this one for her.”
Shuey would notch the game’s first goal just 0:33 in, finding the net on a penalty shot to put her squad up 1-0.
Saves from IR sophomore keeper Mya Parks and Sussex Academy freshman Grace Scott kept the score that way until freshman Clair Loftus got the Seahawks on the board and tacked on the equalizer.
But sophomore defender Delaney Brannon gave the Indians the lead right back after taking a defender around the cage for her first-ever varsity score. Sussex Academy’s Clara Elliot tied it back up after that, taking a clear north to south and going all the way to the house to make it 2-2.
Elliot would go on to tie the game yet again — this time at 3-3 — however, two scores from junior midfielder Lexi Haden put the Indians up 5-3, with one of those goals coming on a penalty shot with just 0:39 left in the half.
“We’re both new programs — we both want it, we both want to win,” Shuey said of the early back-and-forth. “They definitely wanted it, but we wanted it more.”
Just over six minutes into the second half, Elliot and the Seahawks were back at it, when the freshman captain found freshman Maggie Smith for a goal that cut the lead back down to one. They’d manage their fifth and final goal shortly afterwards, that time from freshman Kelsey Smith.
Shuey finished with five goals on the day, bringing her total to 70 on the season. However, according to head coach Kelsea Ayers, the bigger storyline was four of her players getting the first goals of their young careers.
“Having four new people score today was huge. It was huge,” Ayers said of goals from sophomore attackers Zofia Czyzewski and McKenzie Johnson and sophomore defenders Brannon and Briana Jackson. “Today was the first time where we started and finished a game. That is a testament of growth, for sure.”
“It was really exciting,” added Davis, who finished with two goals and an assist on the day. “We’re just building as a team.”
The win was the fourth for the Indians on the season, bringing their overall record to 4-9, with the Seahawks dropping to 3-11.
Being between the only schools in the Henlopen South with a varsity girls’ lacrosse team, the matchup was the only one within the division all season, and Ayers and her girls said they expect the friendly rivalry to continue to grow.
“A lot of the girls know each other. They’re all friends,” Ayers said. “They’re kind of in the same boat as us. They’re a new program. A lot of girls have never played before.”
The Seahawks would go on to fall to Christiana High School, 12-11, in their final game of the season the next day, while the Indians dropped a game to Caesar Rodney on Saturday, May 14, by the score of 17-10, headed into their season finale against Sussex Tech.
Hopes are high for both programs headed into their sophomore seasons; however, the Indians will miss their homesteaded senior as she heads off to the University of Delaware.
“This wasn’t Shuey’s highest-scoring game — this was Shuey’s best game to date, hands down,” said Ayers. “To have one senior — she was the perfect person to have. She always gave me everything she had, every day at practice and from the start of the game to the end of the game.”
“It’s a great feeling. I’m glad that I was able to be here to help start the program,” said Shuey after her final home game. “It just means a lot to me that I was here to be a part of it.”
Goals: IR — E. Shuey (5), L. Haden (3), H. Davis (2), D. Brannon (1), Z. Czyzewski (1), B. Jackson (1), M. Johnson (1) SA — K. Smith (2), C. Elliot (1), C. Loftus (1), M. Smith (1)
Assists: IR — D. Brannon (1), H. Davis (1) SA — C. Elliot (1)
Saves: IR — M. Parks (8), SA — G. Scott (18)