With the reason winding down, and the Indian River High School field hockey team looking to improve its postseason playoff seeding, the remaining two games of the regular season are extremely important.
On Monday, Nov. 23, the Indians hosted Woodbridge with hopes of continuing their push into the DIAA Division II state playoffs, where just last season they saw themselves advance all the way to the state championship game.
Despite their losing record coming into the game (1-6), Woodbridge was pesky and played with a fighting spirit, which could have put a big dent into the Indians’ postseason aspirations.
Junior Brynn McCabe scored both goals for the Indians as they staved off a late comeback bid from the Blue Raiders en route to a 2-1 IRHS win.
The Indians seemed to get a little complacent during the final minutes of the game, which allowed Woodbridge to score its lone goal, and continue to put pressure in their own offensive zone with attempts to tie the game.
“I think it’s a combination of both, really,” said head coach Jodi Stone, on whether it’s the team’s coaches or captains that need to keep reminding players about finishing games strong. “I think we get complacent with scoring early and being up early. Sometimes [getting complacent] can come back to haunt you.”
McCabe’s first goal came with just 49 seconds left in the first quarter, off an assist from senior co-captain Morgan McGee. Her second goal came with 12:40 left in the game, thanks to a helper from freshman Macy Blades.
Woodbridge would not go away quietly, though.
With 3:08 left in the game, Blue Raiders junior Bethany Knutsen, with an assist from Taylor Scott, was able to get the ball passed IR goalie Allyson Clark, who made four saves in the contest, to put the Indians on their heels.
Several more corner chances and shots on goal transpired over the next three minutes, but the Indians were able to persevere to hold off the late charge.
Woodbridge actually held a 10-8 advantage in shots for the game, with seven of those shots coming in the final minutes.
The Indians had several scoring chances throughout to increase their lead, thanks to an 8-3 edge in penalty corners, but could not convert nor get many shots off during those opportunities.
“We have to make sure that we are all in tune together, and that we try to play more balanced like in the past,” Stone said. “We do have plenty of scoring opportunities, but sometimes getting that fire in your belly and really sinking that ball into the goal… we can get it down there, and we’re right in front. It’s almost like we’re trying to decide if we’re trying to take flight or not. We’re right on the edge. That’s something that you can coach the skill, coach the talent, to get it there, but that’s something that they have to want from within.”
IR was set to wrap up the regular season with a Henlopen Athletic Conference divisional crossover game against district rival Sussex Central on Tuesday, Nov. 24, after Coastal Point press time. For a full report on that game, check out the Coastal Point sports Facebook page.