Indians soccer still undefeated after wet, dirty game
Tough weather, crowds and tensions led to a long soccer game on Oct. 9 in which Indian River narrowly beat Caesar Rodney, 3-2, in a critical conference game where both teams began undefeated.
“It was an ugly, ugly game,” said Steve Kilby, IRHS head coach.
A steady, cool rain doused the players, and if the slippery grass didn’t trip them, it appeared their opponents might. Some tripping, kicking and near-punches led to four IR yellow cards and two CR red cards.
Luis Cruz earned IR’s first two goals, first on a foul shot, next with assistance from Rydge Dudley.
“They’re a hard team,” said Carlos Perez Chavez. “We were just doing our best. The field didn’t help at all. We were just playing with our hearts.”
Chavez made the game-winning goal for IR, just two minutes before the game’s end. CR and IR were tied when Chavez lightly kicked the ball near the goal. IR had already aimed a total of 17 shots at CR, all of which were deflected, so it seemed inevitable that the CR goalie would save the slow ball poised before him. Chavez slipped slightly as a CR player fell, but with another small kick, he nudged the ball just past the approaching goalie.
The team was jubilant and afterward cheered Kilby, who had lent some magic to the winning goal.
“Carlos Perez wore my cleats tonight,” Kilby said. “He asked if he could wear them. I said, ‘There’s some goals left in there if you want to wear ’em.’ He got the game-winner, so that was neat.”
“It felt great. It was good. I played for the team,” said Chavez, who used small, deliberate movements so he wouldn’t slip on the grass. “The field was horrible, and I just tried to kick it in. We just try to keep control a little bit.”
“We play quick-feet,” said junior Sam Izzo of IR’s strategy. “[CR] was more of a kick-and-run team. We play possession game. We possess all the way up the field and score, while they just kick the ball long, and on this grass, it skips and rolls forever.”
IR was awarded five corner kicks, and CR had one. CR had 20 fouls, while IR had 15. The only time CR scored on IR goalie Sam Cannon was on penalty kicks.
“We were up a man, and instead of keeping our shape and playing the way we’re capable of, we played direct and left space midfield for them to counter,” Kilby said. “We talked at halftime about not giving up free kicks, which led to, actually, both their goals.”
A handball in the box led to one penalty, while a midfield foul skipped down the field to find the net against IR.
“We just gotta keep our composure and focus, keep our head up, don’t make mistakes,” Chavez said.
“We play hard as a team. We come together as a team. We kept our composure and eventually we came out on top,” said Izzo, adding that his favorite part of the game was “Luiz Cruz. I love that kid, and Carlos — all of us. Coming together as a team, it’s been so much fun this year. It’s been great.”
Last year, IR beat CR, 5-1, one of the few teams to beat CR, and the most soundly. This year, IR’s undefeated season includes wins against Delmar 3-1, Lake Forest 9-0 and Smyrna 2-0. IR has three conference games left to play on their quest to win the conference title three years consecutively.
“We just need to keep our composure throughout the rest of the season,” said Izzo. “Everybody’s gonna be gunning for us. We just gotta maintain the high level of play.”
The Indians were set to travel to Dover on Thursday, Oct. 11, for a game at 7 p.m.