In a game between two of the Henlopen Conference’s best varsity soccer teams, very little separated Indian River and Caesar Rodney. Both are very skilled, have proud traditions and are considered among the elite teams in Delaware.
Over the past two seasons, Indian River and Caesar Rodney have exchanged the Henlopen Conference crown. Indian River earned it in 2005 and then Caesar Rodney pried it away last season.
But after their game on Oct. 2, it appears that the Henlopen Conference title could be headed back to Indian River.
The fifth-ranked Indians (7-0-1, 6-0-1) bested the Riders (7-2, 6-1) with a 2-1 final score, following a breakaway goal by freshman Victor Cuenca-Aguilar with 4:13 remaining in the second overtime period.
The game was simply a war of attrition.
Indian River went ahead 1-0 in the 14th minute of the first half, on a ball played in by Peter Mais to Cameron Travalini, whose shot proved too hot to handle for Riders keeper Ryan Contino.
Despite a narrow lead, Indians head coach Steve Kilby sought to neutralize the Rider’s offensive opportunities and swapped Travalini from attack to mark Caesar Rodney goal-scorer Wayne Tiller. The move worked but took away from the Indians’ own offensive attack, and Kilby swapped Travalini back to attack in the second half in an attempt to further the lead.
“As soon as we took Cameron out of the attack, our offense shut down,” Kilby said.
Unfortunately, with Travalini back in the attack, Tiller evened the score at one apiece midway through the second half, on a rebound from a corner kick.
The score remained tied for nearly 40 minutes, including the final 24 minutes of the second half and into the second overtime period, before Cuence-Aguilar scored the game-winner on Mais’ second assist of the game.
In addition to six crucial saves made by Indians keeper Sean Lewis, Kilby credited the win to the team’s rigorous conditioning in the preseason and their “Fitness Fridays,” which consists of an hour to an hour a half of pure conditioning.
“We really took it to them in both overtime periods, and it showed our fitness and made a huge difference in the game,” Kilby said.
“They don’t enjoy it, but they understand its importance,” he added of the fitness regimen.
With Caesar Rodney in the rear-view mirror for the meantime, Indian River’s road still doesn’t get any easier. They will host Seaford on Oct. 4 (after the Coastal Point went to press) and travel to play fourth-ranked Newark tomorrow night at 6 p.m.
Last season, Seaford surprised Indian River 3-2 and the Indians edged out Newark 1-0.
“It doesn’t get any easier in the next few days,” Kilby said mid-week.