Indians trample Golden Knights behind Mais
Four goals are all the Indians have managed to let up in the first seven games of the season, averaging over three goals each game. Not surprisingly, Indian River is dominating the conference with their undefeated record as they approach the season’s midpoint. Last Tuesday night’s 3-0 shutout, when the Indians hosted Sussex Central, improved their record to 5-0-2, following last Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Caravel Academy.
As chilly, breezy, autumn air moved in, the Golden Knights found themselves outrun and outscored as IR’s co-captain, Peter Mais, buried the first goal of the game in the back of the net in the opening two minutes, thanks to a Nick Izzo assist. Mais later contributed to the score with a penalty kick to put the Indians up by two before the half. Co-captain Cameron Travalini found sophomore Victor Cuenca, who knocked in a third score for the Indians late in the second half to solidify the victory.
A persevering drive and determination kept the host team on top through the evening.
“Today, we had a slow start, with the exception of the first goal,” said Mais following the team’s win Tuesday night, “but we caught them on their heels and kept going.”
With cooler temperatures moving in under windy conditions, the Indians were forced to change their game around a little.
“The wind threw us off a little bit,” Mais added. “Our long balls were off. We thought the wind would die off in the second half.”
“The wind affected both teams’ play,” said Indians head coach Steve Kilby. “It took the ball away when we’d serve them long, out to the flanks. The wind was knocking it down, so we focused on playing combinations on the ground.”
The strategy paid off, as crisp, low passes found their marks, running circles around Central.
A strong defense, anchored by junior sweeper Jake Buchler, kept the ball in River’s favorable half of the field for the majority of the game. Sophomore keeper Kevin Rowe made eight saves in the win over Central.
“Our defense played a great game,” said Mais. “At the end, I played in the back a little, too. Most of the time, I’m talking to the other players, but everybody was on their mark. Everyone did a great job tonight.”
Kilby said he was impressed with the way the team is working together.
“The strength of our team is down the middle of the field,” he noted. “Our central midfielders, defenders and three strikers up top are all very solid. It’s a work-in-progress [moving the ball out] on the flanks, but they’re figuring it out, slowly but surely.”
Indian River will face Sussex Tech on Thursday, Sept. 25, (after Coastal Point press deadline), but will finally get a breather this Saturday.
“We’ve been playing two three-game weeks in a row,” Kilby said. “That can be really hard on the guys. The pros don’t even play six games in two weeks.”
Without another Saturday game until October, Kilby hopes his players can steady themselves and relax a little.
“We have some guys nicked up a bit,” he observed. “Cameron [Travalini] and Victor [Cuenca] are both banged up a little, and they’re our primary strikers.”
The slight muscle bruises and Charlie-horses aren’t expected to slow the two, who combine as lead scorers for the Indians.
The Indians will face eight more games following Thursday’s match at Sussex Tech, but no game is going to come easy, according to the coach.
“We’re approaching the season’s midpoint,” he said, “and every game presents its own difficulties. Central is like a sister school of ours, so that has its own built-in rivalry. Thursday, at Sussex Tech, will be just as much a passionate game. They’re going to bring intensity, and we need to be on top of our game. These teams are better than average, and when you add the emotional part of it, then you’re dealing with a dangerous situation.”
The Indians will host Caesar Rodney at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30 — a challenging competitor, who this past week defeated both Milford and Woodbridge, 8-0. Indian River will follow that up with a road game against Seaford on Oct. 2.