The Indian River Soccer program will don a slightly new look this season, with Steve Kilby taking over the heading coaching duties starting with the girl’s varsity team this spring season. Kilby has served as Howard Gerken’s assistant coach the past two seasons but made all the game calls for the boy’s varsity team last fall — so this was a logical time to make the coaching change official.
Gerken has coached soccer here and there for better part of 30 years, and at Indian River for the past six, so he knew he wasn’t going to be head coach forever. In fact, he was ready to pass the job along.
“I was ready for him to take the job,” said Gerken. “When I first took the job, it was under the understanding that if someone wanted it and would be good at it then I would pass the job on.”
Kilby’s qualifications speak for themselves: 10 years in the Delaware Olympic Developmental Team, a handful of Central Delaware Soccer Association championships scattered over eight years, co-coach at Dover High School for three years and most recently coach of the River Soccer Cosmos and Waves.
He has a great returning nucleus and depth across the board but the other thing that changed is their defense.
Last year, they ran a man-mark defense, which allowed quicker teams to get past the Lady Indians’ defense or at least in scoring situations. So, this year, they’ll run a zone. Despite their lack of speed, the Lady Indians’ defense earned eight shutouts on its way to a 14-1-2 final record.
“We want to always step to the ball and provide cover from behind,” Kilby said. “We don’t want any open space.”
Returning first-team All-Conference defender Kelly Jurusik will spearhead Kilby’s defense, combined with a number of returning players and a few new ones.
“Kelly could play for any team in the state and make an impact,” Kilby said.
Varsity basketball players Kiarra Graves and Jenna McCone have transitioned nicely with their knowledge of zone defense from basketball to soccer, according to Kilby.
“Both of them are extremely athletic,” he said. “Kiarra’s starting to understand what we’re asking of her and Jenna’s showing a lot of nice things as well.”
Second-team All-Conference defender Marlena Schliefer scored two goals in their overtime state tournament win over Dover last season.
Kilby mentioned that, because he has so much depth, he will tinker around with lineups. So it is very possible for any of the players to play a variety of positions.
“We are really balanced, which is very rare,” said Kilby. “Generally, you don’t find teams with this amount of attackers, midfielders and defenders. We’re definitely going to go forward for sure.”
Kilby mentioned that second-team All-Conference midfielder Ali Ambrose could see time there but also at attack, central defender and left flanker.
The Lady Indians return a plethora of scorers: first-team All-Conference striker Molly Chamberlin and second-team All-Conference strikers Michelle Giorgilli and Shawnee Seitz, and added a little speed with sophomore Brooke Timmons.
Kilby also has liked what he’s seen from honorable mention All-Conference midfielder Ellen Dupont thus far, as well.
“She is just a great leader and such a tough cookie to compete with,” he said.
The Lady Indians look to regain their Southern Henlopen crown again this season but have strengthened the schedule in hopes of going further than their second-round 4-0 loss to A.I. DuPont last season. This season, they have Caravel (IR won 3-2 last year), Middletown and Tower Hill on the schedule, in addition to the usual Henlopen soccer powerhouses.
Indian River will start pre-season action at Woodbridge High School on March 11. The play day will start at 8 a.m. and run till 4 p.m.