Love of sport helps middle school squad

The Selbyville Middle School soccer team loves the sport so much that most of head coach Neal Barch’s team play year-round through the River Soccer program or school ball. The skills developed over the years equate into an 8-0-1 record, a 4-1 win over Sussex Central Middle School on Oct. 27 and a match-up with Caesar Rodney syndicate Phifer Middle School on Nov. 3.

In the Oct. 27 game, they mustered eight shots and scored three goals against the Knights and, though there were limited scoring opportunities, a crisp passing game gave them the edge. Spreading the field enabled their scorers plenty of space to make moves to the goal. But to beat the best teams they have to make some changes, according to Matt McDowell.

“We could’ve beat Sussex Central by more,” said McDowell. “We need to take more shots and stop trying to walk the ball in.”

Cody Bowden scored the Indians’ first goal on an unassisted effort. One-on-one ball by Nick Izzo attracted enough Knight defenders for a nice dish to Buchler for the score. Buchler then reeled in his brother Caleb’s pass for their third goal. Caleb earned a place in the scorers column by scoring on an Izzo assist.

Buchler credited their success to practice and the coaches, but Barch took it one step further.

“The River Soccer program helps us compete,” said Barch. “The high school wouldn’t be at the level of competition without the club. These kids already have the skills when I get them — the passing is already there.”

The Indians blanked the Knights in the first half but they didn’t stop kicking and eventually scored on an Osmond Cruz goal. Though the Knights only scored one goal, they were close on a few other shots.

In the first half, a high Cruz shot ricocheted off the top left goal post and following their only goal, the Knights were able to slip behind the Indians defense for another great opportunity. Unfortunately for the Knights, an errant pass disabled their final and best scoring opportunity. Indian goalie Kevin Rowe snared four Knight shots for saves.

“Sussex Central has been down the past few years but they always bring their A-game against us,” said Barch.

The Indians will need to bring their own best game against (8-1) Phifer to finish out the season not unblemished but undefeated.

The middle-school level plays only 12 games each season, so they don’t have an opportunity to play every school in the area. But Barch has a plan for his team to continue to improve.

“My theory is you have to play the best to be No. 1,” Barch said.