The Indian River Indians varsity soccer team advanced to the semi-finals of this year’s DIAA state soccer tournament by gutting out 120 minutes of scoreless play on Nov. 6, including four sudden-death overtime periods, before finally outscoring Sussex Tech 3-1 during the shootout.
Defensively, both teams imposed their wills and limited scoring opportunities, ultimately forcing the shootout.
The teams combined for 12 shots on goal during regulation and four shots apiece during the overtime periods.
“I thought Sussex Tech came out and played as hard as I’d seen them play all year,” Indians head coach Steve Kilby said. “They did a really good job getting on us to control our attack. We may’ve only had eight shots or so, and only three or four of those were quality shots.”
Indian River’s best scoring opportunity came with two minutes remaining in the fourth overtime period, on a cross from Peter Mais to Andrew Kleinstuber for the header attempt. Sussex Tech’s Geofrey Morten blocked the first attempt and finally secured the final header, to end the scoring threat and send the game into a shootout.
Once in the shootout, Indian River dominated behind consecutive goals by Mais and Cameron Travalini, to give Indian River a 2-0 lead at the start of the period. And the cat-like reflexes of keeper Sean Lewis would help them go on for the win.
Sussex Tech’s Ariel Espiroza finally got his team on the board on their second penalty kick attempt, to trim Indian River’s lead to 2-1.
Indian River’s Luke Wingate and Jacob Buchler both missed their respective penalty kicks, which left the door open for Sussex Tech to tie the game up with two more players left to kick.
Lewis stopped cold the shot from Sussex Tech’s Evan Lee on their third attempt, but may have made the play of the game — twice stopping Aris Reynoso on the fourth attempt.
After shooting to the left in two of the first three shot attempts, Reynoso tried to catch Lewis guessing and shot right, unsuccessfully, due to a great save. That put Indian River in the apparent driver’s seat to pull out the victory.
Unfortunately for Lewis and Indian River, the officials ruled that he had come off his line too early, and Reynoso was given another shot. But Lewis stopped it again.
Chris Conover put the game out of reach by drilling the ball straight down the center, off Morten’s hands, for the third and final goal.
This year’s opening-round win got Indian River back on track after they got bounced from the 2006 tournament 2-1 by Tatnall after two overtimes.
“This was a big win for us, after losing in the first round last year,” Lewis said. “But I have to give mad props to Tech. They came out and played us hard. It was a back-and-forth game, and it was tough for anybody to score. But we know we have a team that can win.”
“It’s nice to still be playing,” Kilby said. “But we knew they weren’t going to lay down for us.”
Sussex Tech, ranked 14th, won five of their last six games by a scoring margin of 13-2, including tying Dover at nil apiece.
Indian River will play the winner of the Caravel-Tatnall game Saturday at Wesley College.