Girls head to playoffs with grit

The Indian River varsity girl’s soccer team must love it on the edge, because they won their third of four overtime games this season May 19, by defeating Cape Henlopen 2-0.

A lack of scoring has been an issue for the Lady Indians, but as Head Coach Howard Gerken said, “All you have to do is score more than the other team.”

Indian River scored against Cape Henlopen on freshman Michelle Giorgilli’s corner kicks, one of which was redirected by a header from fellow freshman Marlena Schleifer.

The win gave the Lady Indians a 13-1-1 regular-season record and a No. 10 ranking. But none of that makes any difference from here on out.

Now, it is one and done. Lose a game and you’re out. There are no tomorrows for the losers, no matter how well they did in the regular season.

Fans often root for the Cinderella team to upset the favorite. Indian River fits the bill as spoiler in name alone, but they are in actuality the ones with marks on their backs.

The Lady Indians drew a No. 2 seed, despite their low, non-advancing rank in the News Journal’s groupings. That’s because seeding for post-season play is determined by averaging the winning percentage of their team and of their opponents.

And it just so happens that when the numbers were crunched, the Lady Indians fell in right behind the No. 1 seed, St. Mark’s. Thus, Indian River was set to face No. 15-seed Dover at Caesar Rodney on May 25.

Usually when teams earn a high seed and win their first-round game, the remaining teams may not be of the same caliber, making for an easy downhill roll. The Lady Indians weren’t that lucky. Defeating Dover means they will then play the winner of the Archmere/A.I. duPont game (seeded No. 10 and No. 7, respectively).

Archmere and duPont both posted 11-4-1 records this season, putting them just a few games behind Indian River. In fact, the two programs likely have a few more loses because they play in a more competitive division.

“These programs are so successful because they have excellent experience playing club ball together for so many years. When they get to high school they spend time on tactics. Instead of learning how to kick, they are learning where to kick,” explained Gerken.

But before they can lop off the heads of the mighty Northern teams, Indian River must first get past Dover.

When the two teams met earlier this season, on May 3, Indian River narrowly prevailed in a 2-1 overtime win. The Lady Indians had a hard time adjusting to the quickened pace of that game due to the artificial turf.

But they won’t have to worry about that this time because they will play on natural grass. And the bounce of grass has played its part for the Lady Indians this season — the win against Seaford was primarily the result of the lay of the land and the effect of the wind.

But the key to the game against Dover will be to get up and get on them fast, according to Gerken.

“We also have to work on our one-touch passes and offensively we have to look for shots,” said Gerken. “We need to control the pace of the game, and we can’t let them just hang around like we did last time.”