IR field hockey sticks it to Central, earns first two wins of season

It’s taken Indian River’s varsity field hockey team nearly half the year to capture their first win of the season, but now that they’ve found their footing, the team is rolling through, set on finishing strong and perhaps yielding themselves a shot as the underdogs in the state tournament.

Last Tuesday, the Lady Indians kept it even with Polytech, tying them 2-2. Two days later, they squeezed out a 1-0 win, their first of the year, over Lake Forest, and this past Tuesday, Oct. 14, the girls in green and gold came out strong against Sussex Central, displaying coordinated teamwork and die-hard determination, winning 3-0.

“There’s not a whole lot that we’ve done different,” said IR head coach Julene Williamson. “Our practices are the same. They’re just scoring goals and finding the cage. The girls are still playing well together.”

With only a second to spare on the clock in the first half, Indian River’s Jenny Morin’s shot found the goal off of Chelsea Rogers against Central on Tuesday.

“That goal was really important for our team,” Morin said. “We have been down a lot and that got the team excited and pumped up.”

She followed up with another in the second half, courtesy of Katie Maguire. Rogers sealed the win with the last goal for IR from a pass by Morgan Sheats.

Coming off of the Lake Forest win and the Polytech tie the week earlier, this game meant a lot for the team.

“Central is a big rival team, and we had to come out and win,” said Morin. “We switched up our front line a little. Chelsea is really good at deflecting the ball, and that makes it easier to tap it in. It comes down to being in the right position.”

Aggressive play across the field gave the Lady Indians the better hand, too, as midfield moved the ball, completing smart and effective passes.

“The girls have always put their heart into the game,” said first-year coach Williamson, “but they were not going to the ball earlier, and they weren’t battling the way they are now.”

The Lady Indians dominated possession throughout the game, and capitalized on the majority of their 10 corners.

“The girls are utilizing the corners,” Williamson said. “They are forcing more fouls in the circle, and that’s something they weren’t doing before.”

Indian River’s defense, anchored by Taylor Wharton in the goal, kept the ball away from their protected goal and pulled together for the Lady Indians’ second shutout all season.

“Our defense and keeper are doing unbelievable,” Williamson said. “The scores in other games would be a lot worse if it weren’t for what they’re doing back there.”

With a game against a struggling Smyrna team, the Indians were determined not to let up.

“It’s really important to keep our momentum going,” Williamson said. “We’ve got six or seven games left in season, and they’re all winnable. I don’t know if we can still make playoffs, but things are finally coming together, and we’re going to play our hardest to try to get there. I’m really proud of these girls. They’ve responded well.”

Now, with the taste of a victory fresh in their minds, the Indians hope to continue their streak.

“We know we can score now,” said Morin. “We got over the hump. Now we just have to keep playing our best.”

The Indians were set to face Smyrna on Thursday, Oct. 16, after Coastal Point press time, and will have their work cut out for them next week, hosting Caravel Academy on Monday, Oct. 20, then traveling to Caesar Rodney on Wednesday, Oct. 22, and to Woodbridge the day after.