The Indian River High School girls’ lacrosse team already had three wins on the season. But, oddly enough, none of them would compare to their 17-12 loss to Padua on Monday, April 25.
“That was, hands down, the best game of our season,” said head coach Kelsea Ayers. “Even though we didn’t win today, this was such a great stepping stone. We started to finally do the things that we need to be doing.”
“We’re all really happy, because this was definitely our best game,” added sophomore goalie Mya Parks. “Everyone just definitely worked together. Ground balls, winning draws — we started to crash more on defense, which definitely helped. New people were scoring and new people were catching the ball and keeping with it. It was just a good game.”
Parks played a key role in keeping the Pandas off the board early, racking up back-to-back saves in one-on-one situations after goals from senior midfielder Emiley Shuey had put the Indians up 2-0.
Padua would respond with four unanswered goals, to go up 4-2, but junior midfielder Lexi Haden found the net to even the score at 4-4. Then, down again, Shuey would tie it back at 5-5.
Shuey tacked on a goal on a penalty shot just before the half, to cut the Padua lead to 7-6, and eventually racked up a new career-high nine goals on the day, adding two assists, to finish with double-digit points.
Haden added two goals and an assist; however, what excited the team most was a new name making the box score, when freshman Olivia Lease scored her first-ever goal after getting the bump from J.V.
“Olivia Lease asks me to stay after practice every single day, to work with her on different things,” said Ayers. “All season, we’ve struggled with working as a team, and today’s game we had assists; we had a freshman who got moved up from J.V. score her first career goal tonight — it was huge. I was so excited.”
Lease got the feed from Shuey on her first-half score, but the Indians’ other two assists came traded off between Haden and Shuey in the second half, as Padua began to pull away.
“The best thing was we didn’t stop fighting,” said Ayers. “When you’re down by a couple goals and there’s barely any time left and the odds of us winning are getting smaller and smaller and smaller, to not give up is what I’m always telling them in practice, ‘Never quit, never walk, always work your absolute hardest,’ so them pushing through from the beginning of the game to the end of the game made me so proud of them.”
After the game, Ayers said sophomores Helen Davis and Delaney Brannon, and junior Sara Saylor, led the defense. However, with a career-high 15 saves, it was Parks’ breakout game that stole the show.
“Mya played the game of her life,” she said.
After their “Tourist Tuesday” practice on Tuesday, April 26, the girls were set to head north and take on Smyrna on Wednesday, April 28, (after Coastal Point press time). On Monday, May 2, they’ll hit the road again against St. Thomas More (3-3), before returning home to host Caesar Rodney (4-5) on Wednesday, May 4.
No matter who’s on the docket, however, after the Padua performance, Ayers and the Indians are ready to take them on, finally playing like a “Tribe.”
“This team has gone through a lot of adversity this season and continues to rise to the occasion,” she said. “As a first-year program, we intend to make our mark, and I am extremely proud of every single one of these girls for stepping up. Good things are to come for this program. This game was a step in the right direction.”
Goals: E. Shuey (9), L. Haden (2), O. Lease (1)
Assists: E. Shuey (2), L. Haden (1)
Saves: M. Parks (15)