Coming off a 13-5 win against the Salisbury School and sitting at 2-4 on the season, the Indian River High School boys’ lacrosse team knew they had a streak they needed to start to stay in post-season contention.
And after taking down Delmar 10-5 on Wednesday, April 20, and Dover 14-13 on Friday, April 22, the Indians looked primed to do just that, firing on all cylinders as they approach a crucial stretch of schedule.
“Our goal for the week was to go 3-0,” said junior goalie Hayden McWilliams. “Obviously, the best thing to do would be to win the conference, so we just gotta keep working until we get there.”
“This week was about buy-in,” said coach Dave Spencer, “them discovering the team that they really can be. That’s a big step forward for a group like this.”
After trailing Delmar 2-1 through the first quarter on Wednesday, the Indians rallied back with a dominant second half to notch their first win over the Wildcats in program history.
However, while it might not have been as big of a milestone, their game against Dover on Friday was a much closer call.
After the Senators evened the score at 1-1, tying it for the first of seven different occasions on the night, sophomore attackman Cole “The Machete” Josetti sliced through the Dover defense to give the Indians a 2-1 advantage.
Then, tied up again, senior defenseman Kyle Yerkes intercepted a pass and took it all the way down for the clear, the ball eventually finding its way to Josetti on the doorstep, who, again, found the net.
With 32 ticks left in the quarter, junior midfielder George Martin charged the cage from up top before dishing it to senior attackman Josh Lucido, backdoor, with a precision pass that Lucido finished to give the Indians back the lead.
Senior defenseman Erik Gulbronson set up a clear to start the second quarter, getting it down to junior attackman Gianni Gottschalk, who then found sophomore attackman Wyatt Kovatch for his first of four scores in the game.
Taking a 9-6 lead into the break, Kovatch would go on to knock in scores for the equalizer and then to give the Indians back the lead, but the game would see its seventh and final tie at 13-13 with just over 4:00 to go.
That’s when junior defenseman Griffin McCormick thwarted a clear, with Dover threatening the go-ahead goal, as Martin saved possession at the line, giving the Indians a chance on extra-man offense, which Josetti took advantage of in what would turn out to be the game-winner.
Still with two minutes to go, Dover continued to take their chances, but they were kept from finding the net by McWilliams, who finished with 18 saves on the day — two of them coming in the final minute, from point-blank range.
“He can be a game changer — a momentum changer. And that’s what he did,” said Spencer of the All-Conference keeper after the game. “We turned the ball over twice, and then Hayden went down and made two saves right there in the final part of the fourth quarter that really sealed the deal for us.”
“We made a few errors in the last couple minutes,” said McWilliams. “I just tried to lock it down the best I could.”
While the win was thrilling and got the Indians back to .500 on the season, at 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the division, they were ready for a run headed into their rematch against Milford on Wednesday, April 27, getting hot just in time to try to make a break for the playoffs and a possible division title.
“You can see us progressing as a team,” said McWilliams, “just more working together and not making the mistakes that we were making earlier in the season, cleaning up our game and trying to do whatever we can to win.”
“This is a brotherhood. They love each other, and they’re gonna fight,” added Spencer. “These guys are fired up. These guys are ready to play some ball.”
Game stats vs. Dover:
Goals: C. Josetti (5), W. Kovatch (4), J. Lucido (3), G. Martin (1), M. Stong (1)
Assists: G. Gottschalk (3), G. Martin (3)
Saves: H. McWilliams (18)