‘Good-Knight!’: Tribe keeps playoff hopes alive, gouges Golden Knights 20-1
Coming off three consecutive losses, the Indian River High School lacrosse team had to win out the remainder of their schedule to remain in DIAA playoff contention. With wins against Dover and Sussex Central last week, the Indians are now two-thirds of the way there — with South nemesis Delmar as the only team left on the docket.
“This may decide if we’re in the playoffs or not,” said senior midfielder Ben Gonski of that game. “Playoffs would be big for a two-year team just starting out. Not so bad for a couple of kids just picking up lacrosse sticks.”
The Indians kept their playoffs hopes alive on Friday, May 9, taking down Dover 10-9 in a tight matchup that came down to defense in the final minutes.
“It was back and forth the whole time and then we just stopped them on ‘D,’” senior midfielder Tim Roberts said of the Dover game. “Hayden [McWilliams] really showed up.”
McWilliams, the team’s freshman goalie, ended up with 15 saves on the day, to ensure the team’s one-goal win. While he was holding the defense together, it was another freshman who was sparking the offense, as midfielder George Martin led the scoring attack with four goals and two assists. Senior attackman Jake Troublefield added a hat trick in the win.
The Tribe was able to build on that momentum last Tuesday, May 13, against district rival Sussex Central, dominating the Golden Knights 20-1 on what was the team’s senior night.
“This is the class that came out when we were pulling rocks out of the field, when we really didn’t have a field, and really started the program,” said coach Jerry Sheriden of the 15 seniors on this year’s team. “It’s nice to see that all come together. We probably had our best game, best passes.”
The season-high 20 goals came from all over, including senior defenseman Joost Elling’s first goal of the season.
“Last year, I was also able to score on senior night against Central under the lights,” Elling recalled. “Especially as a defender, just to score in general is a big deal.”
However, despite the major win, the team also suffered a major loss, when senior midfielder and captain Merrick Kovatch went down with what appeared to be a foot or ankle injury. If serious, it would be the team’s second starter lost to injury, after defenseman Tristan Smith injured his ACL against Delmar earlier this season.
“Unfortunately, we lost Merrick early. You hate to see that happen to anybody,” Sheriden said of the injury. “With the loss of Tristan earlier in the year, it’s been tough, and we’re waiting to see if we can pull out another win and sneak into the playoffs.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Kovatch was the team’s second leading points-scorer (17 goals, 14 assists) and controlled the ball on offense. Whether or not he would be healthy enough to take the field against Delmar on Thursday, May 15, was yet to be determined as of Coastal Point press time on May 14 — but, if not, Gonski will be expected to step up and fill the void, as he was able to do against Central.
“Ben Gonski is and has been a leader on our team for quite a while,” Sheriden said of the senior. “He and Merrick are the best of pals, and when Merrick went down, he kind of put the team on his back and stepped up and did some things that have been missing a little bit this year from his game. Going forward, we’re gonna need that kind of game again from him.”
“Hopefully, he’ll be OK for Delmar,” Gonski said, wishing Kovatch a speedy recovery. “The team’s going to really need him, but if it’s looking too grim, then some people are gonna have to step up.”
The matchup against Delmar will be played after Coastal Point press time, but as always, you can get updates, scores, photos, and more by following us on Twitter, @CPointSpots, or liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/coastalpointsports.