The Delmar Lady Wildcats handed Indian River its only regular-season girls soccer loss in an overtime decision late last season (May 17), which derailed an impressive 12-0-1 record heading into the state tournament.
Indian River played Delmar, as well as other good teams, earlier this season and again lost. But there is a bright side, according to Marlena Schleifer.
“Last year we were coming right off the loss to Delmar and we wanted to avenge it, but we were still upset,” she said. “It’s good we got our losses out at the beginning. Now we have time to build some confidence.”
Since April 11, Indian River has rattled off two straight wins over Seaford and, most recently, over Cape Henlopen 3-2 on April 25.
Indian River stonewalled Seaford 4-0 heading into the break, leading up to the game against the Lady Vikings. And the time off paid dividends.
“After losing to Delmar, I think we all got (ticked) off and we came back and spent a lot of time in practice working to play the ball faster and make connections,” Molly Chamberlin said. “We came out and played strong (against Cape Henlopen). I think from now on the rest of the games should be ours.”
Chamberlin mentioned that the Cape Henlopen win was the first game all season that they didn’t get “junk goals” and were able to string passes together for scores. Cape mustered more shots (17:8) but Indian River made sure that the team is counted.
From top to bottom, Indian River played with a rekindled sense of urgency, despite falling behind 2-1 in the first half. And their efforts yielded two full halves of soccer.
Shawnee Seitz and Ellen Dupont displayed great hustle and footwork deep in Cape Henlopen’s zone to give their team scoring opportunities.
Seitz altered passing angles with her aggressive pursuit of the ball and connected with Schleifer eight minutes into the first half, giving Indian River a 1-0 lead.
Ten minutes had passed when Hastings knifed through three Indian defenders and was tripped up, giving her a penalty kick and a golden scoring opportunity.
Hastings topped the ball into the back left corner, just out of the reach of goalie Bethany Beck — tying the game at 1-1. Cape scored another goal with 8:29 remaining in the first half. Beck came out to contest a Hastings cross that Laura Betts corralled and their opponents ricocheted the loose ball off of a recovered Beck’s shoulder for the go-ahead score.
Despite giving up two quick scores and at a glance giving the game away, Beck kept her composure in preparation for the next play.
“The goals they got were lucky,” said Beck. “I knew where the penalty kick was going and the other goal hit off my shoulder. I didn’t think it was even a goal.”
Beck and her teammates proved that they not only talk the talk but walk the walk by stonewalling Hastings and the rest of the Lady Vikings, as well as tacking on two more goals.
Dupont gathered a loose ball from between two Viking defenders, spun to the outside and delivered an on-the-button pass to an eager Chamberlin for the tying goal.
“Ellen served a nice pass and I knew their goalie played the near post so all I had to do was kick it wide,” Chamberlin said.
Schleifer gave Indian River a 3-2 lead with 3:15 in the first half on a rebound which nicked the bottom of the cross bar for a top-shelf goal from about 25 yards out.
The Lady Indians played on top for the remainder of the game but it was Beck that put the nail in the coffin.
Beck made two spectacular saves, one of which Cape Henlopen Head Coach Randy Redard called “the play of the game on Lydia’s shot,” to preserve the victory in the closing minutes of the game.
“Bethany has become a very sound keeper,” Indian River Head Coach Steve Kilby said. “She played the angle and took the ball off a great player’s foot. I can see the improvement. She’s put in the work with a real good keeper coach and its paid dividends. The second one obviously was huge,” he said, referencing the save near the end of the game.
Beck came off her line, and forced and stonewalled Hastings, leaving the goal exposed, but she sprang for the second save.
“She hesitated on the penalty kick but I’d say she atoned for it,” Kilby said.
Indian River (7-3) resumes play against at home against Lake Forest on May 2 and Polytech on May 4.