Two weeks and change ago, Indian River head golf coach Neal Beahan’s gave his players a “get down or lay down” speech, following the team’s worst performance of the year in a match against perennial conference champion contender Dover.
He benched a handful of starters in lieu of less experienced but hungry youngsters for the Lake Forest match, which Indian River won. The veterans’ absence from the lineup was short-lived, and Beahan’s tough-love experiment seemed to have worked when Indian River strolled past Laurel 174-214 for their third straight win.
Senior Justin Albright was one the few players Beahan benched. He admitted he didn’t like his coaches’ decision at the time but, eventually, he saw the wisdom in it all.
“It boosted me up, spirit-wise,” Albright said. “It was a real wake-up call by sitting the seniors.”
Albright bounced back to shoot a team-low 41 and just missed the course low by one stroke. Richard Webster and Matt Binstead both shot scores of 42, while the remainder of the team shot above 47 (47, 50 and 51).
“That was the idea — to get them to work a little harder,” Beahan said. “And now they seem to have a really good focus.”
Indian River (9-3) has played well against the “weaker competition” this year, according to Beahan, whereas they’ve struggled against the elite. Losses to Sussex Tech, Dover and Caesar Rodney have been disappointing, but Indian River has quite a few tough matches remaining.
Indian River’s May 10 match against Cape Henlopen stands to be a major indicator or “acid test” but there are bigger fish to fry — Southern Conference fish.
Indian River will play both Smyrna (8-4) (conference match) and Seaford (non-conference match) in a tri-meet on May 16, and an Indian win over the Eagles would ensure another Southern championship.
Indian River practiced at Bear Trap on May 9, in preparation for the match against Cape Henlopen, to break a little of the monotony. They haven’t played there in a year, so it gave them a different look, heading into the final stretch — one they aren’t taking lightly.
“It’s kind of smart,” Albright said of Beahan’s decision to switch courses, “because it gets us adjusted to a different course. I haven’t played here in a year and it’s been two years since I’ve played at the Rehoboth Country Club, so it’s good to see something different.”
“Justin reminded our guys today (May 9) not to look past Cape Henlopen and take Smyrna lightly,” Beahan said. “Smyrna winning would be like their Super Bowl.”
Indian River’s tri-meet with Smyrna and Seaford will take place at the Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club on May 16. The Henlopen Conference tournament will take place on May 23.