Lacrosee nabs sixth win, second shutout of season
In the debut season of its junior-varsity lacrosse team, Indian River’s newest athletics program has been taking everything in stride. Their only loss of the year came against Salisbury (Md.) High School, who only had a varsity team to put on the field. On Monday, April 30, Indian River shut out Sussex Central’s JV lacrosse program for the second time this year, improving their record to 6-1 and showing plenty of promise for the years to come.
The Indians came out strong, racking up five goals against Sussex Central in each of the first two quarters. A running clock in the second half moved the game along at a brisk pace, but Indian River was able to find the net two more times, as they secured a 12-0 win – the most goals that the team has scored in a single game all year long.
Jalen Griffin and Sam Cannon each earned a hat trick (three goals, apiece), while Spencer Murray added two. Tim Roberts, Jackson Jorss, Jesus Leon and Ben Gonski each added a goal in the victory. Jorss contributed three assists, and Tanner Dudley recorded two. The Indians won 52 ground balls, versus Sussex Central’s 13. Roberts picked up eight face-off wins, and Merrick Kovatch secured three to give the Indians the edge.
But as the final whistle blew, Indian River’s coaching staff acknowledged someone else on the field.
“Go get your goalie,” they shouted to the players, who then mobbed the field, cheering and congratulating junior Kevin Apgar on his sixth win and second shutout of the season.
“Kevin’s a first-year keeper,” noted Indian River head coach Jim Dietsch. “He makes a lot of great saves. He gets a lot of shots thrown his way in the fourth quarter. It’d be easy to let down, but he still does a great job back there. He has always had good position, but now he’s moving the stick and picking up great technique. His clearing game has really improved, too. [Assistant coach] Arian Curcio has worked a lot with him. He’s definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year for us.”
Few anticipated the first-year team achieving the success that the Indians have already managed to find.
“If you told me that we’d be 6-1 a month into the season, with a team that’s never had a lacrosse program here before, I would have thought you were crazy,” said Dietsch. “Except for three kids, no one on the team had played an actual game of lacrosse before this season started. Normally, when the first time you play the game is March 1, you don’t expect to see results like this.”
Dietsch – who played the game growing up and then coached the University of Maryland Terrapins to five NCAA championship appearances and two titles, in 1973 and 1975, before several other collegiate head coaching positions – credits the team’s development, noting improvement, particularly, in the attack.
“In our first three or four games,” he said, “we were primarily a midfield team. They were the ones scoring the goals, and when teams started realizing that, they’d slide in more. After that, we started putting two [attackers] in the crease, and we’re playing more off-ball. In our last game against Sussex Tech, our attack scored six [of our 11] goals. It’s balanced now. I like to see 11 goals and nine assists, or 12 goals and eight assists. That’s unselfish lacrosse.”
Their win over Sussex Central came three days after the Indians defeated Sussex Tech’s junior varsity team – one of the most established lacrosse teams south of Dover – 11-2.
“We didn’t want the guys to come into this game [at Sussex Central] with too much confidence,” Dietsch said. “I’ve been coaching for a long while, and we were prime for the picking. You see it happen in every sport – a team gets a big win, then they fall apart. But our guys stayed focus. We’ve got strong football players who know what it’s like to get up for a game. They have been really good leaders.”
Before next season, Indian River plans to propose a varsity lacrosse program before the IRSD school board, and with plenty of young players, Dietsch is looking forward to the team’s potential down the road.
“It’s truly a joy to see a team progress the way that these guys have,” he said. “We’ll take our lumps as a first-year varsity team next year, but the nucleus of the team this year are 10th-graders. It will be fun to watch and coach next year, but the following year should be really good for us.”
He added that he plans to help the athletes stay involved with the sport throughout the year, through summer leagues and camps. He also plans to help establish a feeder program, visiting middle schools in the district later this month.
The Indians’ lacrosse team was scheduled to host Delmarva Christian High School on Wednesday, May 2, and Caesar Rodney on Thursday, May 3, (after Coastal Point press deadline). Their season will wrap up on Monday, May 7, with a rematch on the road against Sussex Tech.