Lady Indians finish strong on the pitch, hope for spot in state tourney
The Lady Indians’ soccer team wasted no time getting things underway this past Tuesday evening, May 15, as they squared off against Sussex Central. Brianna Belfiore scored the game’s first and final goals and added an assist as Indian River defeated the Golden Knights, 5-1, improving their record to 7-7 as the season drew to an end this week.
Belfiore’s first goal came in the opening minute of the match on Tuesday evening, but the hosting Knights were quick to answer back. Sussex Central’s Haley Timko evened the score at one apiece, but IR’s Kelsey Minyon and Marissa Fox each found the net before the first half drew to a close. The win was the third consecutive victory for the Lady Indians, who have been up and down all season.
Three factors, in particular, have given Indian River some troubles throughout this season, according to head coach Steve Kilby.
“The first and most apparent issue this year has been injuries,” he said. “We lost four of our starters late in the season to knee and ankle injuries. “
Holding mid Ashley Conroe suffered an early season knee injury, and Ashleigh White suffered a torn ankle ligament during a practice. Sarah Swenson’s season drew to a close with a torn ACL, attacking mid Christina Diakos has battled an ankle injury all season long, and sophomore Devin Thune missed time on the pitch due to a concussion. “Needless to say,” said good-spirited Kilby, “our team’s keeping Johnson and Johnson in business.”
Another culprit of the Indians teetering on a .500 record this year stems from inexperience.
“The majority of the girls on this year’s team,” Kilby said, “don’t have a lot of varsity experience, and sometimes, that shows in games. On the plus side, we have a very young team, with a strong presence of freshmen and sophomores, who will be returning next season. I like to think, by then, we’ll be able to turn a corner. It should pay off.”
The third factor came back to the fundamentals of the game, which Kilby reiterated, ought to improve as the team develops together. “We haven’t been finishing the ball the way we need to in order to win games,” he said. “In the last three games, we’ve been working with Devin Thune, Brianna [Belfiore], Marissa Fox and Farris Hauck. I think that has really attributed to us scoring goals in the last few matches.”
He mentioned that narrow 1-0 losses to Cape Henlopen and Delmar back in April may have helped light the fire that the Indians needed to win out their season, following their early-May 3-2 loss to Dover. Since then, they have accumulated three straight wins, with the potential for a fourth before the schedule draws to a close.
“I think losing those games to Cape and Delmar might have shown the girls that in close games, you have to be focused and play the entire game. I think the light really turned on for them there.”
The Indians were scheduled to round out the final game of the regular season on Wednesday, May 16 (after Coastal Point press deadline), against Laurel, a struggling team who has only managed one win this year. With an expected win, the Lady Indians will have an 8-7 record, not the most appealing season result, but one that may bump them into the Delaware state tournament, as they teeter on the cusp.
“We’ve had the eighth-toughest schedule in the whole state, according to the index,” said Kilby. “Even at 8-7, there is still a possibility that we can get in, but we’d need some help with percentage points from other teams. If we get in, we’d be looking at a first-round team like Padua, Charter or Caesar Rodney, which are all quality teams. We’ve just got to go out there and be prepared.”