After a rough 1-2 start against state tournament playoff teams, the Indian River Lady Indians varsity soccer team rattled off back-to-back shutout victories over Milford and Sussex Tech to put themselves back in the winners’ column.
Indian River had a hard time scoring goals against Caesar Rodney and Middletown (three combined goals) but rebounded to beat Milford 6-0 and squeaked past Sussex Tech 1-0 for the team’s third conference shutout.
Caesar Rodney’s speed forced the Lady Indians to bow back and keep their opponents from scoring, which limited their own scoring capabilities.
“The girls were discouraged (with the 1-2 start) because it hasn’t happened in a long time — especially losing games back-to-back,” said head coach Steve Kilby. “As long as we play to our capabilities — we’ll be OK.”
Indian River’s offensive style is the equivalent of small-ball in baseball or the give-and-go in basketball. Indian River is successful when they stop the ball — turn — and string a couple passes together for high percentage shots on goal.
They took 11 shots on goal against the Lady Ravens, which could have inflated the 1-0 score had a couple of their close shots bent this way or that. Marlena Schliefer scored the Lady Indians’ lone goal on a Michelle Giorgilli assist 8.5 minutes into the first half.
Kilby mentioned that the girls were fortunate they scored early because no one knew how the game might have ended had it been a tie at the end of regulation.
“It was really important that we jumped out to an early lead because we didn’t put in our other chances,” he said.
Giorgilli scored the Lady Indians’ first two goals against Milford, with additional goals coming from Molly Chamblerlin, Ellen DuPont, Anna Marie Brown and Kailin Binsted. Chamberlin and Dupont scored assists, as well as Danielle Hall, Erin Kortvelesy and Sarah Purdum.
Kilby credited the win over Sussex Tech to his midfielders for controlling the tempo of the game and doling out passes to start scoring opportunities.
“Shawnee (Seitz), Ellen (DuPont) and Jenna (McKone) dominated the midfield and they did a good job playing to the field and to our players’ feet,” Kilby said. “They played to Schliefer’s feet and Giorgilli’s feet and especially Sarah Purdum. We did a great job of opening the field up for Sarah Purdum. She’s really starting to blossom. She’s getting her hips around, serving and being productive.”
McKone and DuPont both cleaned up empty net scoring opportunities late in the second half. The second came just moments after swapping out keeper Bethany Beck in favor of reserve Amanda Heath.
The ball took a high bounce and the Lady Ravens nearly punched in the loose rebound but McKone booted it out — thwarting their last scoring opportunity with less than two minutes to play in regulation.
Indian River will play Sussex Central on April 6, in what Kilby said is a “can’t look past them,” must-win game, before squaring off with their third playoff team early in the season.
Indian River will host Dover on Saturday for a 1 p.m. game.