Seaford’s three second-half goals on Oct. 3 proved enough to hand Indian River’s varsity soccer team its first loss of the fall season, and since the second round of the 2005 state tournament — but it also showed them that they aren’t invincible.
Indian River’s only blemishes on last year’s 16-1-1 record were a regular-season tie with Cape Henlopen and a state tournament exit at the hands of Tower Hill. Fortunately, for Indian River, they also avenged their loss to Seaford and repaid the team that tied them last year — beating Cape Henlopen 3-0 for their seventh win of the season.
Indian River’s (7-1) offense maintained possession of the ball for a majority of the game and was able to utilize Pierson Roenke and Morgan Hunt’s ability to make long tosses into the goal box for scoring opportunities.
Indian River rifled in 10 shots on goal, also allowing only two Cape Henlopen offensive possessions, yielding no shots on goal, and had five long throws into the goalie box for additional scoring opportunities by Roenke and Hunt in the first half.
Both players have the confidence of head coach Steve Kilby to make the long throw and, during the 26th minute of the first half, Roenke connected with Hunt for Indian River’s first goal.
“Morgan and Pierson can both throw for the post, so we treat those like corners,” Kilby said, referring to more traditional corner kicks.
“Pierson and I have been working on our throws, to see who can throw the farthest,” Hunts added of their practice time. “And we can each throw the ball 30 to 40 yards. And that’s a huge advantage because a lot of people think that you can only toss the ball in 10 or 15 yards — but Pierson and I can almost get it to the goal.”
Pierson’s throw didn’t quite make it to the goal, but he did put it in an open space toward the middle-right side of the Cape Henlopen goal box, and Hunt was able to collect the pass, turn and shoot a hard shot for the go-ahead goal.
Cameron Travalini and Peter Mais scored the Indians’ final two scores in the 19th and eighth minutes of the second half, respectively, for a 3-0 final score.
Focus in practice remains the key
No one, short of Indian River head coach Steve Kilby, thought that his team would be sipping sour milk so early in the season, if at all — but a 3-2 Oct. 3 loss to Seaford definitely beamed them back to reality.
Kilby knew that Indians’ lackadaisical practices would eventually catch up to them. But if they were going to try to defend last year’s Henlopen Championship, they’d have to step up the intensity in practice.
“The Seaford loss was a real wake-up call for us,” Kilby said. “We weren’t doing things in practice with focus and it caught up with us.”
The very next day at practice, Kilby gathered his players for a get-down-or-lie-down, play-to-your-capabilities speech, and since then he has been pleased with his players’ response.
“We had a team conference after the Seaford loss and the guys have responded very positively,” Kilby said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the challenge laid at their feet.
“We cannot allow ourselves to play down to another team’s level — especially if we’re the better team.”
Hunt noted that he and his teammates were practicing “so much more seriously,” and that their new mantra is to never let up, no matter what the score.
“We were so disappointed after losing to Seaford,” Hunt said. “Anything less than an undefeated season is unacceptable, so now we’re not taking any teams lightly. If we’re up 10-0, we’re not letting up anymore.”
After an Oct. 12 match against Lake Forest, Indian River will play its next two matches on the road against Polytech and Caesar Rodney, on Oct. 17 and 21, respectively.