The Lady Indians’ field hockey team is already shaping up for an improved season this year, and by Tuesday afternoon’s practice, they had only played one game. Scoring and recovery were on second-year head coach Julene Williamson’s mind this year, as last year’s team struggled to accomplish both in last year’s losing season. This past Monday, however, Indian River turned all that around, as they defeated Red Lion Christian Academy, 3-1, in the season-opener.
Jenny Morin found fellow senior Lilly D’Orazio, who recorded the first goal of the season 12 minutes into the game. Red Lion kept it close, tying it up by halftime. But Indian River drove it home as Morin followed up with two late goals, each within the last five minutes of the game. Katie Maguire and Jodie Powell added assists to the win.
The game marked the second loss for Red Lion, which succumbed to Dover, 2-1, on Saturday, Sept. 12 in their season-opener.
Stepping onto the field with the Lions was not going to be a simple task, noted Williamson.
”Usually, when you play a team up north, regardless, they’re going to be competitive,” she said. “Starting out with a win is key. Now, our girls have confidence, and they know they can do it. They know they can score, and they’ll do it all.”
Passing and communicating, she noted, played key roles in the team’s win. Goalkeeper Taylor Wharton was able to fend off shots through the second half to contribute to the win.
“Taylor did a great job in back,” said Williamson. “The one goal Red Lion scored was a hard shot. It deflection off our stick and was probably going in no matter what.”
Indian River’s defense saw some rebuilding this year, as three of their backfield starters graduated in the spring.
“Our defense is great now,” said Morin. “They’ve really stepped up. I like who backs me up. [Alissa] Porter and Paige [Rogers] are great on defense. Katie [Maguire] is always right there to pick it up and move the ball up the field.”
Starting off the season on a positive note was a good sign for the seniors on the team.
“It was really important for us to get a win in the first game this year,” said Morin. “It shows we want it. We knew we couldn’t slow down. Last season when it was tied, knew we always seemed to slow down. We’d be up and [our opponent] would come back and beat us.”
Despite coming out with the “W” by the time the clock ticked down, there was plenty that Indian River still hoped to accomplish before they hosted Caesar Rodney this past Wednesday.
“We played well,” said Williamson, “but it wasn’t a perfect game. We could have made it easier on ourselves if we had done some things differently. As long as we communicate and talk to each other, everything will fall into place.”
For the seniors on the team, this may not only be their best year on the Indian River varsity squad, but the conference could possibly be in their grasp, assuming the teamwork and cooperation they put on in Monday’s game continues.
“This should be a good year,” Coach Williamson said. “The girls have the will and desire to get it done, and the seniors want to make playoffs.”
The schedule ahead of them, though, will ensure that the Indian River team works to make those games count.
“Even though we won 3-1,” Williamson added, “we still have tougher competition.”
They were set to face Caesar Rodney this past Wednesday (after Coastal Point press deadline), which fell earlier to a prepared St. Marks team, and the Indians will host Woodbridge this Saturday, Sept. 19, at 11 a.m. The following week, they will face stiff competition at Dover (Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.) and Seaford (Thursday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.).
“We’re hoping for at least nine wins this season,” said Williamson. “Nine wins will get us to the playoffs. It doesn’t matter which ones. That’s our magic number.”
Morin said she knew precisely what the team had to focus on as they prepared for a difficult stretch in their schedule.
“We still need to work on cutting,” she said, “and getting back to the ball. At least now, with a win, we’re hyped up. Last year, we started the season with a loss, but already showing improvement.”