All-state soccer stars Buchler, Belfiore, Beam return for Lady Indians
Just months after the Indian River High School boys’ soccer team made history, winning the first-ever DIAA Division II championship, the school’s girls’ soccer team is gearing up for the spring season with hopes of doing the same.
“It is a huge topic of conversation within the team,” said head coach Steve Kilby, who coached the boys’ team to the school’s first-ever state title soccer victory this past November, “especially some of our senior girls that have been with the program and have acted as boys’ [team] managers. They’re very motivated, and it’s something that they talk about — they say that they want the same bus ride home.”
With returning young stars including senior Brianna Belfiore, junior Sarah Buchler and sophomore Brooke Beam — who all were All-State selections last season — and more depth of talent than the squad has seen in Kilby’s tenure as head coach, a state title certainly appears to be in the realm of possibility, and, needless to say, expectations are high.
“We’re going to be probably deeper from top to bottom than we’ve ever been,” Kilby said, highlighting this year’s roster depth. “We’ve got a pretty solid first 11 or 12, but we’ve never had this much depth behind what would be our first 11 — very impressive.”
While last year’s core group of freshmen will be expected to step up as sophomores, the young and talented squad will be reinforced with another impressive freshman class this year.
“We’ve got some really strong players in our freshman class,” Kilby noted. “We were fairly young last year, but we’ve got a real mixture of some young kids that are very seasoned from the club scene that are going to be an impact on this team.”
In addition to returning Belfiore (who tallied 10 goals and five assists last season), Buchler (who controlled the game as the team’s center back) and Beam (who notched an impressive 20 goals in her freshman campaign), notably, senior goalkeeper Alex Myers will return between the pipes. Myers was a first-team All-Conference selection as a junior last season and is coming off a winter season in which she displayed tremendous leadership for a young Lady Indians basketball squad.
With the Division I and Division II split for the first time this year, the team won’t have to face Division I powerhouse Padua Academy in the tournament, but they will likely still need to get past teams including Archmere and Caravel, who Kilby expects to be strong squads yet again.
“I think Archmere is going to be a very strong program,” he said. “Caravel graduated a lot [of players] but I think they’re going to have a fairly solid squad returning and, hopefully, we’ll be in that mix.”
Caravel was the team that ended the Lady Indians’ playoff run last year to cap off their 10-5 season.
While a state championship is the team’s ultimate goal, Kilby knows that they can’t overlook their initial task of first taking control of the Henlopen South Division.
“I would fully expect us to win the division this year,” he noted. “That’s got to be the expectation. We won seven in a row and then the last two years have not done that. So when we talk about goal-setting this week, that will be one of the first things we address.”
The girls started off on the right foot last Saturday, March 8, winning all three of their scrimmages at a play day. They’ll scrimmage St. Elizabeth High School on Friday, March 14, on the road and compete in another play day at Milford this Saturday, March 15, at 9 a.m. before opening the regular season against Polytech High School on Tuesday, March 25, at 7 p.m. at Indian River.