River lights up the night against Laurel
Tuesday night, the Indians left nothing on the soccer field, closing out their home season against Laurel 7-0. The shutout brought Indian River’s record up to 11-1-2, as they inch closer to the post-season tournament. On top of the win, the game held a little more sentiment to the senior class, who played their final minutes on their home field, ending an era of their athletic careers.
“Tonight was fun,” said senior co-captain Peter Mais following Tuesday’s win. “We knew it wasn’t going to be a very challenging game, but it was nice to have everyone really come together.”
Chris Connover, another senior co-captain, has also been playing with Indian River since his freshman year. “There have been a lot of memories on this field,” he said after the game. “We’ve done a lot here, and we want to finish strong.”
For IR head coach Steve Kilby, the night was a simple reminder of what he’s seen not only over the past four years but for the better part of the decade.
“We knew it would be a special night here tonight,” he said. “I know when we have our banquet this year, it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to these kids.”
In addition to coaching the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams at Indian River, Kilby is also the director of coaches at River Soccer Club in Roxana, which has warranted him the opportunity to watch these players from ages 10 and 11.
“I’ve been coaching these boys at a competitive level since they were very young, and now, I have the benefit of working with them through high school. We’ve had a lot of times together.”
Mais and Connover have shared captains’ duties with fellow seniors Cameron Travalini and Zach Izzo this year. The four will be leaving the team with the graduating class of 2009, leaving behind a legacy and some talented cleats to fill.
“These guys have been a great influence to the younger players every step of the way,” said Kilby. “Cameron has always been the most athletic guy on the team. Peter has had the best vision. Chris plays with the most heart when he’s out there, and Zach is the steadiest guy we’ve got. You can really look at these guys and see what the past seven or so years together has done for them.”
Seeing the boys off on their last host game of the year was both rewarding and touching for Kilby.
“I’m in a unique situation,” he said, “being able to coach them at a couple of levels. Hopefully, they learned the right things, and it’ll show as they play on form here. They’re a great group.”
Tuesday night’s win put the Indians in the driver’s seat for the quest for the conference and a vying bout at the state title. Mais tacked on two in the first half, along with one from Travalini and Connover. Freshman Josh Mercer and Sophomore Connor Danaher also contributed a goal against Laurel. Caleb Buchler had two assists in the win.
The Indians traveled to Milford on Thursday, Oct. 23, (after Coastal Point press deadline) and will finish the year with the heavily anticipated rescheduled match at Sussex Tech on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Sussex Tech currently shares the same season record as the Indians, with a loss to Seaford and tying games against Worcester Prep and Delmar. Tech was able to pull out a 1-0 win back in early October against Casesar Rodney, the only team to beat the Indians this year.
“Tech will be a challenge for us,” said Mais. “They’ve got a small field, and that’s difficult to work with.”
“[Sussex Tech] is going to be a serious match,” Kilby agreed. “They’re having their best season ever, and we have to come out prepared for that game. They’ve had our game circled on the schedule since last year, and we expect their best effort.”
Next Tuesday’s match will cap off the regular season for both the Indians and Sussex Tech.
“It’s very important to enter states on a strong note,” said Kilby. “We need to play it and expect to win it.”