It turns out that the Indian River High School soccer team is playing for a whole lot more than a state title this season.
Just weeks before their season opener against Delmar, 16-year old Trevor Kramer — a friend and schoolmate to the girls on the team and many others — passed away after a battle with cancer. Then, just two-days before the match, head coach Steve Kilby was hospitalized for undisclosed medical reasons.
While Kilby would make his way back out onto the field in time for the game, the girls were more determined than ever when the whistle finally blew on Thursday, March 24 — wearing “Trevor Kramer” on their warm-ups jerseys and realizing that they had more to play for than just a win.
“Before the game I looked up at the sky and I said, ‘Trevor, we got this right?’” said sophomore goalkeeper Fabrea’ McCray. “So I didn’t really worry about the game. I knew I was on the field with a group of girls that were gonna protect the goal as well.”
“We have so much to play for this year,” said sophomore midfielder Sammi Whelen. “We were gonna give it our all. We’ve got Trevor Kramer on our warm up jerseys. Every game is for him.”
Their dedication showed early on, when junior forward Maddie Hogsten found the net in just the second minute off an assist from senior forward Brooke Beam to make it 1-0. The duo would team up again just a few minutes later, with Beam finding Hogsten for another score in the eighth minute to make it 2-0.
Beam would go on to tally four assists in the first half alone, also finding senior midfielder Emma Engel for a score in the 16th minute, and senior forward Madi Mercer for her first goal of the season in the 36th minute as the Indians took a 4-0 lead into the half.
“They were man-marking her all over the field,” Kilby said of the Delmar defense’s focus on Beam.
“She’s dealt with that kind of pressure before. The big thing for us was finding places for her to be effective so we got her out wide which created space for her to play other players in.”
After the break, it was senior midfielder Aline Guzman-Check that sparked the scoring with an assist from Mercer in the 44th minute.
But the Wildcats wouldn’t be able to hold the Indians’ leading goal scorer from finding the net for much longer, as Beam tallied the game’s final two scores — one off a free kick in the 54th minute, the other unassisted in the 62nd — and the Indians sealed a 7-0 victory.
Defensively, Delmar managed only two shots against the IR defense, both of which were saved by McCray.
“Very, very solid performance tonight,” said Kilby after the game. “I have a lot of faith in this team. I have a lot of faith in these girls. They’ve got an opportunity ahead of them this year.
“Every time they step on the field, their expectations have to be really really high, because they’re that good.”
The division win put the Indians at 1-0 on the season headed into spring break. When they return they’re scheduled for two conference home match ups, the first against Cape Henlopen on Tuesday, April 5, then against Milford on Thursday, April 7. Both games are set for 6 p.m.