Indian River didn’t necessarily hit the restart button this season, but it was close after losing 14 seniors in the program’s second full varsity season.
The Indians’ squad that made it to the first round of the Delaware state playoffs first round last season was with the team for four years since it was club, junior varsity and then varsity.
“As a program from start to finish, we kind of grew as a program with them,” co-head coach John Jaskewich said. “We went from a club, running around with some sticks to making it to the first round of the playoffs.”
But just as the Indians started a few years ago, it was teaching the fundamentals this season on their way to a 3-10 record before the season finale against the Wilmington Christian School on May 15.
Jaskewich said the biggest problem is the lack of any travel or rec programs near the school.
“Cape has their feeder program up north and if you go a little bit south, Ocean City area, Salisbury, they have their feeder programs,” Jaskewich said. “It’s almost like this little spot of Delaware has been missed for a long time. As far as that, we’re getting some kids that have played before … but we are very limited.”
The two most experienced players for the Indians are sophomores, and they didn’t grow in lower Delaware.
Ironically enough, Hayden McWilliams and George Martin grew up in Maryland across the Bay Bridge. At a young age, both were exposed to lacrosse.
“Our two true team captains,” Jaskewich said. “Hayden McWilliams is our leader on the defensive end and a true animal in the cage. … George Martin, he’s been the one that I’ve tried to build an offense around because he can control the ball the best.”
Building around the experience
McWilliams and Martin started as freshmen and are excited to get back to the point the Indians were at a season ago. They both said it’s not that IR doesn’t have good athletes, but rather a general lack of playing experience — something this year helped with a lot.
“Last year, we started off a high note because we had a lot of talent to make it to the state tournament,” McWilliams said. “This year, we’ve taken a step back, but I can see us getting ready. You have to work backward to go forward. We’re just going to keep getting better.”
As a goalkeeper, it’s tough to work with an inexperienced defense because they all have to move as one, McWilliams said.
“You’re the quarterback of the defense,” he said. “You really have to be a strong, tight family unit back there because they have to understand that if you’re yelling at them during the game, it’s not because you’re mad at them. You just want them to do what’s right.”
It’s the same for Martin on offense.
A bright spot was freshman Cole Josetti, who made contributions all season.
With a big group back, Martin expects improvements next season.
“They just learned the system, and it can start clicking,” he said.
The Henlopen South lacrosse division is generally young. IR is the newest as of now, but Delmar, Lake Forest and Milford are still catching up to north teams like Cape Henlopen, Sussex Tech and Caesar Rodney.
So with its returning players, the Indians can focus on getting back to the playoffs after a growing season.
“The goal every year is to make the playoffs,” Jaskewich said. “That was biggest achievement as a team.”
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