Despite earning their second loss in a 2-0 loss to Milford on Sept. 12, Indian River’s head field hockey coach felt confident that a week’s worth of preparation for their next match would be enough to get the team over the hump and into the winners’ column.
All they need, according to Colleen Groszer, is for their talents to mesh and to be able to trust each other to the point where they can anticipate each other’s moves out on the field, and finally to play a fluid style of hockey that she knows they’re capable of playing.
Unfortunately, their week of preparation and hard work would go unrewarded, as on Sept. 20 the Lady Indians (0-3) fell 5-0 to the high-octane Cape Henlopen Lady Vikings (2-0).
“Cape Henlopen may be the best team I’ve ever seen,” Groszer recalled from her experiences coaching in Maryland’s private-school ranks. “It was almost like they had an extra player. They have a phenomenal passing game and they worked well as a team. But I have to say that if we play like we did against Cape, then we can compete against anybody.
“We really played hard and as a coach you can’t ask for anything more,” Groszer continued.
Cape Henlopen proved to be a tough challenge for the Lady Indians, for the simple fact that every one of Cape head coach Amanda Jacona’s players plays the sport year-round. If it isn’t club ball, it’s travel ball. If they’re not going to a camp, then they’re playing summer league. And their dedication to the sport was evident in their play.
The Cape defensive shell repelled each Indian River offensive advance like water falling around a smooth rock and then, without missing a beat, they were able to get the ball into transition for each of their five goals.
“This wasn’t a bad game for us,” Jacona said, “though it’s still only our second game and our communication isn’t where we’d like it to be. But we passed well and used each other well. Our girls are very good at judging when they have time [to dribble] and when they have to get it out.”
Cape Henlopen mustered an astounding 20 shots, of which Indian River goalie Abi Buchler blocked eight. But, still, the Lady Vikings offense proved still to be too great for the Lady Indians.
Lillie Lingo scored Cape’s first goal and then Amanda Deloy matched her teammate for the team’s second. Deloy then one-upped — or rather three-upped — her by scoring a hat-trick to account for the remaining three goals.
The Lady Vikings displayed a wide range of passes, which included the push and the lift, while executing near-perfect ball handling. As if that wasn’t enough, they fired a ton of difficult shots at Buchler. Three Buchler blocks went at least chest-high, and each of Cape Henlopen’s five goals hit a different part of the goal.
“Some of their goals were extremely difficult shots [to block],”Groszer said. “You’d look at it and say, ‘What a great shot!’ But Abi really did a great job. She cut down on her angles. But when you get 20 shots on goal, you’re going to score — especially when you fire powerhouse shots.”
Groszer also credited her midfielders and defensive center-back Courtney Cooke for their efforts against Cape Henlopen but stated that they would have to start finishing if they were going to end their three-game losing streak.
“I really count on Courtney to anchor on defense and our midfielders did a great job today. But we need to do a better job of finishing on the attack,” Groszer said.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks but, truthfully, I think that once we get a win under our belt that we’ll be fine. We’re going to come out of it sooner or later. But we have to trust each other to play well together,” Groszer explained. “There are some things that I can’t help them with out on the field. They have to figure it out for themselves.”
Indian River was set to host a pair of games against Laurel and St. Thomas More on Sept. 21 and 23, respectively, before heading off to Sussex Tech on Sept. 27. Both games against their Sussex County foes begin at 4 p.m, and the match with St. Thomas More will start at 1 p.m.