It isn’t too often that a coach is satisfied with not winning.
Indian River first-year head field hockey coach Caitlin Harker was on Sept. 11 – but not because she doesn’t expect her team to achieve. No, she expects them to be very competitive — especially as the season goes on. But, right now, it’s early in the season and Harker is still evaluating her team’s strengths and weaknesses.
And despite not winning their regular-season opener against Dover, Harker witnessed a vast potential in her team through a 1-1 tie after an overtime period.
“I’m very excited,” Harker said of her team’s performance in their regular-season opener. “If they continue to play like they did in the second half and overtime, we’ll be a successful team.
“They know what they have to do now all they have to do is do it,” she added.
Dover broke a deadlock after a scoreless first half, but the Lady Indians quickly countered, to tie the game and effectively shut out the Lady Senators’ offense for the rest of the second half and an overtime period.
Harker said the reason for her team not scoring in the first half was an inability to cope with the speed of Dover’s artificial-turf field. But to their credit, the Lady Indians adapted to the field by utilized a short passing game, which ultimately put them in position to score.
Erin Warner scored the team’s lone goal, on a corner from Jordan Warrington.
“I think that the girls were getting used to the new surface in the first half but adjusted well,” Harker said. “We scored quickly after Dover [in the second half] and dominated them for the rest of the game.”
There was some uneasiness state-wide whether or not heavy precipitation would cancel games scheduled for Sept. 11. But, fortunately, Dover’s field drains very well and their game went off without a hitch.
Indian River was set to play three games this week, starting with a Sept. 13 match-up with Seaford. So, being able to play and play well, right out of the blocks, was crucial to their upcoming season.
“If we would’ve been on a grass field, then it would’ve been close. But the turf [at Dover] drains water really well,” Harker said of the Sept. 11 game. “But I certainly wanted them to have a game. Two weeks of preseason and two weeks without any real competition outside of our team can be really tough, mentally and physically.
“But anytime a team plays well they gain confidence, and when they left the game they became more of a team,” she added.
The Lady Indians will travel to Milford on Sept. 18 and host their first home game of the season against Delmar on Sept. 22.