Indian River’s field hockey team hadn’t won a season opener since the 2009 2010 season and their match up against Sussex Tech on Sept. 15 made it seem unlikely that the Indians would buck the trend.
But the team made it their goal to do exactly that this season and in overtime Lexi Haden’s goal gave the Indians a 1-0 win.
Indian River fought off 15 Tech corners and goalie Maddie Thune had 12 saves.
“Words can’t describe how we all feel,” head coach Jodi Stone said.
With confidence flowing, the Indians pegged an 8-0 win against Laurel to follow, only to travel on the road to St. Thomas More for another win.
Three games, three shutouts and three wins has set the tone for the season, Stone said.
Lack of confidence and inconsistent coaching staff have been the flaws in the program over the years but the tide is changing.
Stone has been with this group of seniors since middle school. She was an assistant their freshman year and the head coach for the past three.
With a win against Sussex Tech, confidence is at an all time high.
“They’ve always heard me say these things, ‘You have the tools. You have the speed. You have the talent,’ ” Stone said. “They believed it, but they never felt confident. That win kind of put a notch in that self-confidence column.”
But Indian River is still a part of the Henlopen Conference, that reminder came with two losses on Sept. 22 and 24 against Woodbridge and Smyrna.
It won’t get any easier against Polytech on Tuesday, either.
Stone called it humbling after the losses.
“We don’t look at that as a negative,” Stone said. “We look at that as a positive where the bar is set high, and if you want to play with them you have to raise the bar.”
Stone credits the success of the team to the eight seniors and seven juniors.
Prior to this season, the Indians were a young team.
Midfielders Sarah King and Callie McDowell have been instrumental in linking defense to offense. Maddie McGee and Lexi Haden have been neck and neck for top scorer.
Thune had three shutouts on goal, thanks to the defense, who was used to the ball being in their end.
In fact, offensive forwardness is something Stone is stressing and it has helped across the field.
“That’s the thing that this program has lacked,” Stone said. “It’s offensive attack mode, and it takes years to build that.”
For once, Indian River doesn’t have to focus on the things they lack, but rather on the next team to beat.
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