With only one game remaining on its regular-season schedule, the Indian River Indians varsity soccer team clinched the Southern Henlopen Division Title but was edged out for the overall conference title by Caesar Rodney, following a 5-0 win over Cape Henlopen on Oct. 23.
Indian River has held the conference title each of the past two years, but the team was unable to continue their streak — in part because they’d tied too many games this season.
The Indians (11-1-3, 10-0-2) went undefeated in conference play, including beating (13-2, 12-1) Caesar Rodney 2-1 earlier this season. But they also tied three games, two of which were conference games — which factored heavily in the Riders winning the Henlopen title this year.
The Henlopen Conference awards each team three points for a win and one for a tie in conference game.
Indians head coach Steve Kilby expressed some disappointment in the team not winning the conference title because he said he felt that his team could have and should have played better against Dover and Seaford.
“This was disappointing, because winning the conference was one of our goals and we let it slip away,” he said. “Our two ties in conference – we probably should’ve won, but we didn’t finish our chances.”
Indian River was set to round out its regular season with Milford (3-8-2, 2-8-2) on Oct. 25, after Coastal Point press time, and it was Kilby’s hope early this week that his team would play with more urgency than they did in a 5-1 win over Laurel.
“We didn’t play with as much of a sense of urgency as I’d like,” Kilby said of his team’s performance against Laurel on Oct. 23. “We only have one game left before the state tournament so I’d like to push ourselves going into the tournament because we have 10 to 12 days off before we play again.
“We need to make sure we’re tuned in,” Kilby added.
Kilby said he is nervous because he doesn’t want the team to get complacent.
Indian River hasn’t made it past the first round of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA) state tournament in each of the past two years and failed to make it past the second round three years ago. Kilby said is hopeful, though, that this is the year that the Indians will advance further to challenge for a state title.
“I think they recognize how important it is for them to be on top of their game [heading into the state tournament],” Kilby said. “They know what it’s like to go out early.”
In Indian River’s win over Laurel, Kilby went deep into his bench in an attempt to get them a bit more varsity experience heading into the tournament, following two unassisted first-period goals by Peter Mais.
Cameron Travalini countered a Laurel goal to start the second period with an unassisted goal. Sean Lewis came out of goal in the second half and scored on a Mais assist, and Luis Castro scored his first goal of the season on an assist from Dimitri Hill.
Kilby mentioned that they should know who they’ll face in the state tournament, and when, by Nov. 3, when the selection committee meets.