Overtime games are always exciting to watch and be a part of, but Indian River might want to skip the kind of excitement they had to endure when they faced off with fellow Southern Conference contender Seaford on Oct. 4. After jumping out to a fast 2-0 lead, midfielder Danny Kleinstuber’s red card forced the Indians to play shorthanded for the remainder of the game, though they would miraculously pull out a 4-2 double overtime victory.
Pierson Roenke and Ben Gichner scored the Indians first two goals in the first half and everything looked positive for Head Coach Howard Gerken’s squad.
“We scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of the game and we felt we’d have an easy night,” explained Gerken. “But about a minute after that their striker (Trevor Lee) intercepted a pass for the score.”
The winner of this game would own the spot atop the southern division and both teams realized the implications.
Twenty minutes into the second half a Seaford shot was initially stopped by Indian goalie Sean Lewis, but the rebound was collected and put in the net to tie the game at 2-2.
With the rug pulled out from under them, a sense of urgency lay within both teams and physical play turned extracurricular, but the second player in an altercation was seen and Kleinstuber was ejected — placing his team at a one-man disadvantage.
This marks the second time this season that one of the Indians players had received a red card.
“We need to have more composure,” said Gerken. “Situations like that — the second guy always gets caught.”
Down a man, Gerken and his assistant coach Steve Kilby had to re-arrange their players in order to keep their heads above water.
Kilby had them play a 2-2 offensive box, which included two midfielders and staggered five defenders in a 2-3 formation which seemed to give them some organization.
“We were a little disorganized in the second half, but our guys rose to the occasion,” said Gerken.
In overtime, Indian River struck first on an Andrew Cordell-Carey goal from far out. Carey blasted the ball from the right side and hit it high and long enough to score over an outstretched goalie.
“His shot looked more like a mortar shot,” said Gerken. “It was high and long enough to get over the goalie’s hands.”
Obligated to play a second 10-minute half, Indian River kept the pressure on and the speedy goal-scoring machine Gichner made the goal happen — even if it wasn’t by actually kicking it in.
“We had a 2-3 situation but all three of their defenders were on Ben and nobody was on Pierson (Roenke) except the goalie, so he passed it to him and we scored,” said Gerken.
The Indians may own the southern conference lead now but they have bigger fish to fry. Indian River hosts perennial contender, and currently undefeated, Cape Henlopen on Oct. 6.
Wins over northern conference teams will give Indian River an opportunity to play for the conference championship, which they won two seasons ago.
“Both teams are undefeated, so it should be a good game,” said Gerken.
Indian River hosts Dover on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m.