Early ferocity on the pitch is the name of the game for the Indian River soccer team this year. Last Thursday, the Indians managed only a tie against a strengthened Dover team, backed by goalkeeper Cameron Lucas. But, since then, they’ve dominated the field, outscoring their last two opponents with a combined count of 10-1.
Last Saturday, they made their presence felt at Archmere Academy, winning 6-1. Then they brought the intensity home as they shutout Polytech 4-0 this past Tuesday. And vigorous play and unselfish strategy are going to be essential as they prepare for upcoming conference matches.
Co-captain and senior Cameron Travalini — although scoreless in River’s season opening win over Cape two weeks ago — has moved right to the top of the list, scoring the team’s tying goal against Dover, two at Archmere and a hat trick against Polytech.
“Every one of us is playing together well,” he said. “We all are usually on the same page, since we’ve played together for a long time. We know how each other will work.”
Showmanship and teamwork was apparent Tuesday night under the lights as he headed in a pass, courtesy of fellow co-captain Peter Mais, in the 14th minute. Seven minutes later, Travalini found Victor Cuenca in front of the net for a score that would put the Indians at 2-0 before halftime. Mais again connected with Travalini in the second half, before Cameron would register the final blow of the game in the 68th minute.
Though the scoreboard showed no weary play on IR’s part, both Travalini and head coach Steve Kilby noticed the team came out a little shaky in Tuesday’s bout.
“We started a little flat,” said Kilby. “Fortunately, we have creative players that did a really good job of getting back and getting compact in the middle.”
With a road game at Smyrna this past Thursday (after Coastal Point press deadline), Kilby wanted to ensure his team was structured and ready.
“A concern we have is trying to maintain a high intensity level every time you come out to play,” he said. “I would like to see a little more energy from the players when they come out. We don’t want a let-down, especially against a conference rival. We need to come out with the type of intensity we had for Archmere and Dover.”
It’s that kind of fight he’s hoping the team will uphold as they dive into the heart of their schedule in the upcoming weeks.
“As long as we come out the way we have against Dover and Archmere, we should be fine,” he said.
“Smyrna is a tough team,” Mais added. “We just need to stay focused. All of these games are important now.”
Looking back at Dover, the intensity was there, though Kilby’s team struggled to find the back of the net.
“We played well there,” he said. “[Lucas] had five really incredible saves. I have to believe he is one of the top two or three keepers in the state.”
With dominating possession in the past two games, Kilby’s managed to provide his entire squad with playing time.
“We used everybody in the game,” he said, “and that’s always nice to be able do. We can go four to six players into the bench, and that doesn’t impact our level of play. That’s something that not all coaches have.”
The front line and midfield manage to continue working in harmony, while the defense protects sophomore keeper Kevin Rowe for the Indians.
“Cameron [Travalini] and Peter [Mais] work together very well,” said Kilby, “and when you throw Victor [Cuenca] in there, it’s a dangerous combination.”
Following Thursday’s game, the Indians will return home to host Caravel Academy on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 5:30 p.m. and Sussex Central on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7 p.m.