It has been a long, drawn-out season for the Indian River varsity field hockey team, who earlier this week managed a close match against Sussex Central but failed to pick up their first win of the season. They fell to the Golden Knights, 1-0, on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
This Thursday, after Coastal Point press deadline, the Lady Indians were set to play Smyrna to round out their year.
A late goal from Sussex Central sophomore Katie Warrington on Tuesday was just enough to nudge the Golden Knights past the Lady Indians. And, though they registered a 0-11-3 record going into the Tuesday game, the Lady Indians’ season itself still carried with it promise and hope for years to come.
“We had opportunities against Sussex Central,” noted Indian River first-year head coach Cheryl Carey. “The team was complimented by [Sussex Central head coach] Terri Tipton, and even the refs told our girls they had a great game – and that means something.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Carey noted, “with 19 penalty corners and plenty of shots on goal. Even in the last 30 seconds of the game, [freshman attacker] Karlie Smith had a breakaway and we pushed two wings up to the circle. Our girls did what they were supposed to do.”
With a discouraging record that never turned the corner this year, it would have been easy for the Lady Indians to lie down and forfeit their efforts, but they have stayed strong and pushed on through each game.
“Their hearts were there, and the effort was present all the time,” said Carey. “There were some tears at the end of the game, but that’s good. It told me that this game and this season still matters to them. It would have been easy for them to throw in the towel or to hang their heads low if they were scored on first, but they played hard all season long.”
Carey, herself a former field hockey star, had witnessed the highs and lows of the game, too, but remained optimistic for the team’s return.
“It turned out,” she said, “that this season was really about character-building. When you’re up against adversity, you’re going to become stronger. These girls can rely on each other, even though the season, in terms of wins and losses, wasn’t what we were hoping for. You have to keep everything in perspective.”
As a first-year coach at Indian River, Carey found the silver lining in a sub-par season.
“I definitely see a lot of commitment,” she said. “I treasure the athletes I have grown to know, and recognize their heart, spirit, fun and hard work. We were a young team this year, and after we lose nine seniors this year, we’ll be starting with a young team again. No matter what, though, you’ve really got to find the enthusiasm and excitement. They are traits that you want to see return with the girls next year.”