South champs IR shutout Central, look to conference championship
After clinching last week their first Henlopen South title since 2011, the Indian River High School girls’ soccer team posted back-to-back shutouts against Lake Forest and Sussex Central to notch their 11th and 12th consecutive wins and improve to 13-1 on the season (as of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, May 14).
Facing one of the better teams in the South division on Thursday, May 8, the Lady Indians handled Lake Forest in a 3-0 match that saw two goals from sophomore forward Brooke Beam and one from freshman forward Maddie Hogsten. Beam scored unassisted both times, while Hogsten’s goal was assisted by Beam.
The underclassmen scoring leaders were at it again on Monday, May 12, when they took on district-rival Sussex Central — dominating the Lady Golden Knights 8-0 in a game that could have gotten far more out of hand if IR hadn’t pulled its starters and played possession in the second half.
Hogsten tacked on the first goal of the game off the assist from Beam, but the scoring run didn’t take off until the 25th minute, when senior midfielder Meredith Mitchell finished a chance from outside the box to put the Lady Indians up 2-0. Beam had the assist on that play, as well.
Beam would record a goal of her own off the assist from sophomore forward/midfielder Madison Mercer just over a minute later — and would add her second goal of the game and 27th of the season when she drove down the sideline and pinged the inside of the top-left crossbar on a perfectly placed shot. Junior midfielder Maria Papavasillis had the assist on that goal.
Hogsten tacked on her second goal of the game and 19th on the season shortly afterwards. The freshman is now just one goal shy of reaching Beam’s goal total of 20 in her freshman campaign last season.
Before getting pulled as the scoring began to get out of control, Beam again drove down the sideline and sent a pass cross-field to set up senior forward Ashleigh White, to make it 6-0. Beam’s two-goal, three-assist performance put her at 40 points (27 goals, 13 assists) headed into IR’s final regular-season game. Hogsten is the team’s second leading scorer, with 26 points (19 goals, seven assists).
Junior defender Marissa Fox made it 7-0 in the second half, scoring off a corner kick from senior midfielder Christina Diakos. Sophomore midfielder Emma Engel added the game’s final goal as the Lady Indians tried to run out the clock without scoring in the second half.
The team’s fourth shutout and 12th win in a row put them at 13-1 on the season, collectively outscoring their opponents 65-2 since their only loss, to Caesar Rodney. According to senior midfielder Bri Belfiore, however, those are just numbers.
“I think it’s a game-by-game thing. You don’t want to look at that, because you could be thrown off,” Belfiore explained. “As you can see, CR beat us 7-2, then Sussex Tech beat them — so I don’t really go by that.”
The Lady Indians will get a chance to face the only team to score on them during their 12-game run when they face Sussex Tech in the conference championship game on Friday, May 16, at 4 p.m. at Milford High School.
Indian River won the first meeting between the two evenly-matched teams on Thursday, May 1, in a game that went down to the 80th minute and was finally capped off with a phenomenal goal by Beam for a 3-2 finish.
“I’m not gonna lie — we were kind of afraid to play them the first time,” acknowledged sophomore midfielder Ailene Guzman of her initial perception of a Tech team that beat Caesar Rodney. “Once we started playing, I thought to myself, ‘We can do this. We can keep up with them. We’re just as good.’”
Guzman went on to note what she sees as the keys to Friday’s matchup: “First of all, we have to go in there determined, with a mindset that we’re not gonna lose,” she stated. “We’re gonna play well as a team and unite — just go in with a mentality that we can do this.”
For real-time updates on the conference title battle between Indian River and Sussex Tech, follow @CPointSports on Twitter.