The Indian River Indians varsity soccer team slipped past the weather and Cape Henlopen 3-0 in their home opener on Sept. 11.
Cape Henlopen looked to be the more aggressive team from the outset and were able to drill three of their 10 shots in the first few minutes of the game. But with so many talented players on the Indian River team, eventually they were able to right their ship.
“We started out a little slow,” Indians senior captain Luke Wingate said. “But after the first 15 minutes we started getting the ball into open spaces, and it came together well.”
“We focused on playing the flanks a little quicker, to open up the center of the field, which allowed for more penetrating runs,” Indians head coach Steve Kilby said.
It was there that Chris Conover, a junior, emerged as a big-time playmaker after spending most of last year as a reserve, and tallied the team’s only two assists in the game.
The first went to Peter Mais in the 27th minute of the first half. The goal came off on the second of two consecutive corner kicks in which Conover corralled the loose ball and crisply passed it to an unchecked Mais, who was able to punch in the ball for a 1-0 lead.
Conover headed his second assist to Cameron Travalini, for his first goal of the season in the 56th minute, which gave the Indians a 2-0 lead.
“Chris is a ball-hawk,” Kilby said. “He has great instinct and is always pushing the offensive pass.”
“Chris is the most improved player since I’ve been here,” Wingate admitted. “He’s definitely going to be a key player for us this year.”
Mais scored his second goal of the season and the team’s third goal on a direct kick in the 74th minute. Indian River out-shot Cape Henlopen 18 to 10 and held a four-to-one advantage on corner kicks, which Kilby attributed to his defense.
“[Cape Henlopen}came out with a lot of energy and were playing pretty much direct, but Luke Wingate, Ethan Davis and John Handy quelled the tide with Zach Izzo,” Kilby said.
And what little they did let through, Indian River’s keeper Sean Lewis made sure to hold his team’s advantage. He showed great athleticism in the goal after missing most of the 2006 season with a broken ankle and recorded five saves — including consecutive saves late in the second half. After batting down a high shot attempt, Lewis was able to get back into position and dove to secure the loose ball on the second attempt, at point-blank range.
The Indians (1-0) will host Dover and Archmere Academy Saturday, Sept. 15, before traveling to Polytech and hosting Smyrna Sept. 18 and 20, respectively.