Anytime a player is recognized on the state level for their efforts in their respective sport, it is a big deal.
Such was the case the four members of the Indian River High School girls’ soccer program this year, as Isabella Binko, Grace Engel, Mackenzie Gorey and Anastasia Diakos were named to the All-State team.
Binko and Engel garnered First Team honors, while Gorey and Diakos were selected to the Second Team. Binko was also named to the Elite Top XI as one of the top players overall in the state.
“For myself, I definitely think getting All-State and Top XI was what I wanted to achieve, as far what I had set out for myself,” said Binko, who was named All-State Second Team last year as a freshman. “As far as the team, I think we achieved what I felt we were capable of. We won the division and made a good run in states. Caravel was tough, and I think we played them well despite what the scoreboard may have said.”
Binko was the Indians’ leading scorer this season, with 24 goals and 11 assists overall. Both were team-highs. In 2018, Binko scored 28 goals with nine assists, giving her 52 career goals and 20 assists.
“I think teams knew who I was this year, versus last year,” Binko added. “They weren’t like ‘Oh, she’s a freshman,’ and didn’t really know much about me. This year, they knew I could shoot, and they prepared for that, I guess. Certain teams you could tell marked me differently, instead of last year, where it took some time to know about me. It didn’t really affect how I play. I still went out and played my game.”
Head coach Steve Kilby was certainly complimentary of his super sophomore.
“Izzy is a difference-maker for us and is a huge problem for any other team we play against, as our opponents need to account for her whereabouts at all times,” the veteran IR field general said. “She has an incredible work rate and great vision. She has scored some great goals for us, and we look for her continued contributions going forward.”
Binko, who plays travel soccer for the Delaware FC Elite program, is the daughter of Joe and Leigh Binko, and has a younger brother, Aidan.
As for Engel, the First Team honor was the proverbial cherry on top of a scholastic career that spanned four seasons as a starter. Her efforts as a defensive midfielder for the Indians this season certainly were noticed throughout not only the Henlopen Athletic Conference but the entire state.
This season, she scored three goals to go with nine assists, but more important was her performance in the middle of the field, including on the back end in helping an IR defense post eight shutouts amongst their 12 wins.
“It’s always really an honor to represent the program,” said Engel, a senior co-captain this past season. “I love the program at IR. I think it is amazing. Maybe I am a little bit biased since I grew up around it, but it’s always really nice to be recognized for all the work you put in during the season, out-of-season, and especially on the weekends when nobody is watching.”
Engel started her trek to the IR program as a member of the River Soccer Club, back when she was just a young up-and-coming player. She has developed and evolved her game to be one of the best in the entire state.
“Grace Engel will be so difficult to replace,” said Kilby of the senior. “I’m not sure if we will miss her leadership more or her incredible ability and work rate. Grace’s intelligence always had her in the right place, doing the right things. I am also going to miss her humor, which is a great facet of her personality as a player and a person.”
The daughter of Rob and Christina Engel, Grace Engel will be heading to the University of Delaware, where she will major in biology. She hopes to continue her playing career for the club team there, and, if not, then definitely intramural. She has two siblings — younger brother Matthew and an older sister, Emma, who she will be joining at UD.
As for Gorey and Diakos, their Second Team recognition was well-deserved, according to Kilby.
“Mackenzie Gorey has been a mainstay on our back line for the past four seasons and is someone we’ll have to figure out how to replace,” Kilby said of his senior co-captain. “Mac has been a two-year captain, and really showed how good she is in the Senior Blue-Gold All-State game. Sia is someone we look forward to continue scoring goals, helping us to stretch defenses, and wreak havoc on our opponents with her pace and work rate.”
Kilby also touched on his third captain, Isabella Keith, who he felt was snubbed for All-State honors. She did join Engel and Gorey at the Senior Blue-Gold All-State game last week.
“Bella is another player we will miss,” Kilby added. “She has played multiple positions and made huge contributions to our program. She has served as a captain while helping to lead us to four straight division titles.”
Six Indians players were named to the Academic All-Conference team this past season as well. Those honored include Jordyn Hogsten, Avery Congleton, Hannah J. Bird, Tobi LoRusso, Chloe Beam and Brynn McCabe.
By Jason Feather