Every year, the Indian River High School soccer team makes a short list. First there’s the division title. Then the conference championship game. And, finally, the ultimate goal — a DIAA state championship.
The Indian River High School soccer team capped the 2015 fall sports season the right way on Saturday, with their 1-0 state championship win over Caravel and so much excitement that now it all just seems like one long (but awesome) blur of green and gold, and red and blue from the police and fire truck sirens and, of course, white from the student section covering the Smyrna stands in baby powder by tossing it up in the air like Lebron to celebrate Oscar Cruz’s goal and, eventually, the title.
After taking more than a 10-year hiatus before making its return in 2014, the Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament is already gearing up for year two, with the success of last year’s resurgence in the books.
Slam Dunk to the Beach had a triumphant return to the local sports scene last year and organizers are planning even more great basketball for this year’s event, slated for Dec. 27-29.
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I was standing in the check-out line at Giant last week when I noticed a magazine cover with one of the most disconcerting tag lines that I had ever read: “My Own Story: Khloe Kardashian Breaks Her Silence.”
Every year the Fenwick Island Turkey Trot adds a new turkey depicting a charity on the official event t-shirt.
This year, it’ll be dressed in a police uniform as the annual family run/walk aims to raise funds for Stephen Lowe of the Fenwick Island Police Department and his family after he and his wife Amanda’s son Coleton was born with a heart defect known as Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).
“We try to pick a different local charity every year,” said Turkey Trot race director and owner of HipAHA Fenwick Island Boot Camp Lori Martin. “The [Fenwick Island] town council approached me and asked if we would consider donating the funds to the Lowe family — I was very excited to be able to keep it local in the town.”
The free 2.2-mile event taking place along Bunting Avenue in Fenwick Island will generate proceeds through sales of the annual T-shirt, as well donations from participants. But after teaming up with Neighbors in Need at last year’s run, they will also be collecting canned goods to be donated to local food bank on the day of the race.
After being held scoreless for 43 minutes and trailing 1-0, a game-tying goal seemed improbable. And a game-winning goal? Almost impossible.
But when Millsboro head coach Molly Chamberlin called a timeout with seven minutes to go in their season finale against Selbyville on Wednesday, Nov. 4, she told her squad that what had already been their most successful season in program history, wasn’t going to end with a loss.
“They kind of had their heads down,” Chamberlin said. “I told them “you have seven minutes to score two goals. Everything you’ve worked for for the last two and a half months is coming down to these last seven minutes - we’ve had such a great season, don’t let it end like this.’”
That’s when the Golden Knight offense came alive, finally getting on the board when Macy Layfield crossed a ball in front of the net and Avery Congleton knocked it home to tie the score at 1-1.
It had been over a year since KiAnte Sturgis scored a touchdown at Indian River High School.
But when the Sussex Central senior running back took the field on Friday night, wearing blue and gold instead of green and gold after transferring schools last spring, it only took him 45 seconds to find the end zone.
“We knew that they were gonna be giving Sturgis the ball an awful lot,” said head coach Phil Townsend after the game. “He came out, he was explosive — he’s a great athlete, he’s hard to stop.”
After the Sturgis score made it 7-0, the Indians responded when junior running back George Martin took a pitch and found senior wide receiver Barry Hooper who hauled in a long pass and took it all the way down to the five-yard line. Martin would take a hand off and score on the next play to tie the game at 7-7.
But just as he had taken his first carry of the night to the house, Sturgis did it again on his second carry of the night to make it 14-7 Golden Knights, and eventually added his third rushing touchdown still in the first quarter.
Mikie Mochiam has made a name for himself scoring game-changing goals late in games over the last couple weeks.
The Indians’ junior forward netted the game winner against Cape Henlopen in the 87th minute of the Henlopen Conference Championship on Nov. 3, and did it again to break the stalemate against Delaware Military Academy in the 72nd minute on Saturday, Nov. 14.
But in Wednesday night’s semi-final game against no. 8 Archmere, it only took “Machine Gun Mikie” less than a minute to find the net – setting the tone for an eventual 2-0 victory to send the Indians to the DIAA State Championship game against no. 2 Caravel on Saturday, Nov. 21.
“Scoring that early in the game in the semi-finals, that gave us a lot of momentum,” Mochiam said. “We’ve never really scored that early in the game this season.”
They say that when a lizard loses its tail, it grows back. It’s just part of its DNA — its just the way that its designed.
That being the case, it seems only appropriate that Indian River senior Eliza Bomhardt also goes by the nickname “Lizard,” as a play on her name thought up by the Indians’ softball team.
For the past three years, “The Lizard” has helped lead that softball team both on and off the field, playing an array of positions and earning herself a second-team All Conference selection as a catcher during her junior campaign last season before eventually going on to agree to play Division 1 softball for the University of Hartford next spring.
Like a lizard without its tail, Bomhardt had her fair share of challenges to overcome to make her dream come true. She had started playing softball later than most girls typically do, and when she finally joined a team, for awhile, she sat the bench.
It’s been his dream ever since he started playing baseball, and last week in front of all of his family, friends, and coaches, it’s a dream that he officially made come true.
Indian River senior Ryan Engh was a bright spot for the Indians on National Signing Day, signing with High Point University in North Carolina to play outfield for the Panthers next spring.
“It’s been a goal of mine ever since I started playing baseball,” Engh said. “Putting pen to paper just makes it official.”
Engh has started all three years for the Indians since joining the team as a freshman, going on to be named a second-team All Conference outfielder last spring as a junior. That’s when he started attended tournaments and showcases throughout the Mid-Atlantic, into Georgia, and even as far west as Arizona.
“Throughout the summer I was playing a lot tournaments on the weekends,” he explained. “Down in Georgia is when the High Point assistant coach saw me.”
After rolling no. 12 Brandywine 6-0 during the first round of the DIAA playoffs on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Indian River High School soccer team was put to the test when they got to the second round.
Facing no. 4 Delaware Military Academy (12-3) on Saturday, Nov. 14, the no. 5 ranked Indians traveled back up to Dover and went toe-to-toe for 72 scoreless minutes until junior forward Mikie Mochiam finally broke the stalemate with a score to put his squad up 1-0 — a lead that they would cling to through regulation, eventually notching the win and advancing the DIAA state semi-finals.
The game-winning goal came just over after Mochiam had netted a similar score against Cape Henlopen in the Henlopen Conference Championship, which also gave the Indians a 1-0 lead late in a scoreless game and proved to be the difference.
The Indians were set to face no. 8 Archmere (9-6) in the state semi-finals on Wednesday, Nov. 18 (after Coastal Point press time), after the Auks managed to take down no. 1 St. Andrew’s (12-3) in a game that went to PK’s on Saturday, Nov. 14.
I found out about “Lifedogs” when I was waiting in line at the DMV last week, opting to stand up the whole time instead of sitting down in the hopes that a display of impatience would somehow move the line faster. Also, because the place is pretty gross.
It’s been the mantra of the Indian River High School soccer team all season, and coming off their Conference Championship win against Cape Henlopen and headed into their first round playoff match against Brandywine, that mantra was all the more important to maintain.
“After beating Cape it gave us a huge boost, going from toughest schedule in the state to winning the Conference Championship was unbelievable,” said junior defender Patrick Mochiam. “We just need to keep the momentum going — we just gotta keep our focus.”
“The word has been ‘focus,’” added head coach Steve Kilby. “That’s what we want. We want them to focus them to focus on every game and what it is they’re supposed to be doing within their role.”
Not only did the Indian River High School cross country team take on the hills of Killens Pond and the entire Henlopen Conference last Saturday at the Henlopen Conference Championship, but they had the elements to contend with as well.
“I’ve always told the runners from day one that they have to adjust according to what the environment demands from them,” said head coach Major Frank Ryman of the less-than-ideal weather conditions. “As the race went on the course degraded more, it really limited where they could actually run, but it’s all part of running in a state park — it’s what makes cross country what it is.”
To combat the muddy course and large number of runners competing, the Indians implemented somewhat of a single-file strategy on narrow stretches of the course.
“I did tell them to go single file if they had to and not allow themselves to be caught up in a mob of runners,” Ryman explained. “That’s the challenge here, which I know probably had an impact on some of the runners.”
“It was different,” added senior Mason Sanders. “There were a lot of people so we were all grouped up more. We’ve practiced in this a few times, but besides that this is kind of a first.”
Sanders would finish first for the IR boys’ team on the day and 33rd overall, clocking in at 18:45. Senior Garrett Driscoll came in just six places after that at 18:57, and senior Blayne Gates took 41st at 19:01.
“It was a great run,” said Ryman. “We had several runners PR (personal record), we had some runners that didn’t run as fast as they have previously on this course, it was a mixed bag.”
It only took the offense the first four-plays to jump out to an eight-point lead.
But an undefeated season and win over rival Millsboro would eventually come down to the defense and the final four-plays — when the Selbyville Middle School football team found themselves in need of a red-zone stop with time winding down, trying to hold on to that same eight-point lead.
“Our whole season came down to four minutes left,” SMS assistant coach Tim Clausen said about the stakes during the final drive of the Indians’ final game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
And despite being on the field for the majority of the second half, the SMS defense rose to the challenge in those final four-minutes, turning the ball over on downs to all but seal a 14-6 victory and perfect 7-0 record.
It’s been their Achilles’ heel all season. One good half of football, but another unraveled by mistakes. And Friday night’s game at Lake Forest (7-2, 5-0) was no different.
“I think it’s just a young-team-kind-of-thing, we haven’t been able to play two halves as a team,” said Indian River head coach Phill Townsend. “Unfortunately, this year it seems like we’re a one-half football team, whether it’s the first half or the second half.”
Against the Spartans, it was the second half after falling flat in the first, as Lake took advantage of early turnovers and leaned on senior quarterback Noah-Feague Johnson to move the chains on their way to a 27-0 lead at the break and eventual 34-14 victory.
“A couple of those runs that he had, our d-ends got sucked in and he made big plays,” said Townsend of the dual-threat quarterback. “To beat a team like this, it’s assignment football. You make one mistake and it shows on the field.”
For years, the Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club have been amping up their youth programs and getting golfers involved at a younger age.
But when the club announced its first fall clinic this September, even Cripple Creek PGA Golf Pro Matt Keller was surprised at the response.
“I wasn’t expecting as big of a turnout, we ended up with about 35 kids,” said Keller. “The more programs we do and the more people are hearing about it, they’re definitely getting more into it now.”
While Keller usually handles smaller clinics in the spring of summer on his own, he called up Indian River High School head golf coach Billy Wingate and the Indians’ number-one golfer Joey Cooper to help out with the larger numbers, and broke the eight-week camp up into two weekly sessions to be able to offer better instruction and smaller groups.
“We’ve broken it up into two groups, one’s Tuesday and one’s Wednesday night,” Keller explained. “Every 20 minutes we’re rotating them around so they’re all getting as many different fundamentals as they can.”
“We needed three people to give proper instruction in small groups,” Wingate added. “The kids are good kids, they’ve shown a lot of interest. We’ve got some really good talent out here and it’s fun, I’ve had a good time.”
Ranging from golfers as young as 4th grade all the way to the high school level, the clinic offers a wide array of instruction as well, from driving, chipping, and putting, all the way down to what clubs to use and when.
Delmarva Christian High School’s girls’ volleyball team may have lost their first-round match with the Sanford School, but coach Jim Berger said the young Royals look to come back next year even stronger.
Although Berger said the Royals volleyball team was winning the second set till the very end, they ended up losing in straight sets, 25-17, 25-22 and 25-15.
With time winding down and everything on the line, more often than not the game doesn’t come down to the star quarterback or the 1,000-yard rusher or even that gargantuan nose tackle that sometimes finds his way into goal-line packages like Mike Ditka and the Bears used to do with William “The Fridge” Perry.
It was a situation they’d been in before: down one score with time running out and a chance at a division title on the line.
But just like they had against Milford earlier this season, the Indian River High School football team rallied back with a late drive against Delmar on Friday, Oct. 30, to pull off a 21-20 victory on a goal-line touchdown run from junior running back George Martin that once again kept their Henlopen South title hopes alive.
“Another big win,” said head coach Phill Townsend after the game. “[Delmar was] coming off a big win last week, they were pumped up, and my guys — they responded.”
Martin’s score with 22 seconds was set up when senior quarterback Jake Hudson found senior fullback Gunnar Moldrik on a pass that he took down to the four-yard line, dragging Wildcat tacklers with him along the way. But it was Delmar that had set the tone earlier in the game with a 40-yard touchdown run by senior Kavon Trader, as the IR defense tried to adjust without senior nose tackle DeAndre “D.D.” Cooper. Despite a few setbacks, however, the Indians saw several key players step up up to fill the void.
The Selbyville Middle School volleyball team had high expectations going into their first-ever year as an official program. But after a 2-0 win over Delmar on Wednesday, Oct. 28, those expectations were officially exceeded, as the Indians locked in a 10-0 record and capped an undefeated season.
“I said, ‘I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people,’ but I didn’t think we would surprise them like this,” said head coach Sally Craig of forming the team. “I thought we’d have a winning season just knowing these girls and knowing the coaching staff, but I never dreamt that we would go undefeated.”
That dream almost looked out of reach for a moment when Delmar jumped out to an early lead during the first game of Wednesday’s match-up, but the Indians mounted their comeback once they found their serve.
“They were just a couple points ahead of us, we didn’t start to panic but we thought, ‘Okay, this is gonna be a good game,’” Craig explained. “Then our serves started coming through and theirs didn’t, so that was kind of a turning point.”
In a match that went scoreless through 87 minutes, it took a player that started the season as a defender to net the game’s first and only goal.
That’s when Indian River midfielder Mikie Mochiam scored the game-winner in overtime, blowing by Cape Henlopen outside back Tyler Malloy and knocking a shot past keeper Brent Hochrein on a through ball from midfielder Johan Cordoba to send the Indians past the Vikings 1-0 for the Henlopen Conference title.
“I saw an opening right in between the center back and the left back and I ran through it,” Mochiam explained. “I knew [Johan] was gonna play the ball so I ran through that hole and I just tucked it in into the left corner.”
“We said that’s what we needed, was one chance in the second half off of a counter and Johan played a great ball to Mikie, who buried it,” added head coach Steve Kilby.
But while Mochiam and the offensive attack would put an end to overtime, it was the IR defense that got them there, as senior goal keeper Ian Walls mounted a career performance and tallied 13 saves on the night.
Local cross country teams capped the regular season at a quad-meet held at the University of Delaware Marine Studies campus in Lewes on Thursday, Oct. 29, with Indian River, Sussex Central, Cape Henlopen and Smyrna High School all competing.
Despite Smyrna seeing two top finishers for the boys, the Vikings ended up winning out on the day behind four top-10 runners. The Golden Knights were led by sophomores Albert Norman and Benjamin Campagnone, taking fourth and fifth respectively, while senior Mason Sanders finished first for the Indians, just ahead of senior Blayne Gates.
Cape senior Sarah Dziak took first in the girls meet as the Vikings found success in that race as well, but the Indians notched wins over Smyrna and Central when the pack rolled in, led by senior Brooke Beam in sixth, junior Sydney Messick not far off in seventh, sophomore Olivia Garvey taking eighth and senior Katelyn Jensen in ninth.
The squads will all see each other again at the Henlopen Conference Championship at Killens Pond on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m.
It was an up and down week for the Indian River field hockey team, but after falling to Milford 5-0 on the road, the Indians bounced back with a 2-1 win at Hodgson Vo. Tech in their final game of the season.
On Hodgson’s Senior Day, it was an IR underclassman that got the scoring started, when sophomore Kaleigh Cordrey put the Indians up 1-0, finding the net just over 17 minutes in with a shot assisted by junior Maggie Ford.
The Indians would push the lead to 2-0 when junior Madi McGee tacked on a score nearing halftime, assisted by senior Emma-Lee Merrick.
The Silver Eagles managed their lone goal nearing the end of regulation, but the Indians eventually sealed their fifth win on the year after a tough outing against the Buccaneers on Thursday, Oct. 29.
I wasn’t much of a soccer fan before I moved to Delaware… and for good reason.
The division was up for grabs when the Indian River cross-country team made their way to Blairs Pond State Park to take on Milford and Lake Forest on Wednesday, Oct. 21. But while they had added notches in the record books the previous two weeks, the Indians would fall short of a Henlopen South title, despite their best efforts on a challenging course.
“I definitely think everybody put in their all,” said senior Donald Hattier. “Major had me lead out a pack,” he said of coach Maj. Frank Ryman, “and I was really impressed by the amount of kids who normally trail behind who followed up real close.”
While Hattier led the second wave of IR runners, seniors Garrett Driscoll and Blayne Gates each got the Indians on the board with top-five finishes — with Driscoll notching second at 18:41, and Gates taking fourth at 18:46. Coming in just after Gates, however, was a pack of Milford runners that filled out the top 10.
Coming off a performance in which they held the No. 1 ranked team in the state scoreless for 35 minutes, the Indian River field hockey team looked like they had their mojo back going up against Lake Forest on Tuesday, Oct. 27.
But despite putting together 60 minutes of solid hockey in a division matchup, the Spartans would rally to spoil a Senior Night victory and edge the Indians 2-1 by way of a last-minute score.
“It was good hockey. It was back and forth,” said head coach Jodi Stone after the game. “I think we were equally matched. We had opportunities. We just came up short a little bit.”
While Lake may have managed the final goal, it was the Indians that had struck first, taking a 1-0 lead when junior Madi McGee knocked in a shot assisted by senior Emily Shuey with 16:38 to go in the first half.