Excited Indian River eyes 4th straight field hockey tournament appearance

Sophomore Emma Ruley (12) celebrates with her Indian River teammates after scoring during last month’s victory over Smyrna. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DAGSBORO — It’s been quietly building up to this for a few years now.

After earning the program’s first DIAA field hockey state tournament appearance in at least seven years back in 2016, Indian River High nabbed its fourth consecutive trip this season.

The Indians (14-1) solidified the Division II tourney’s second seed, earning a first-round bye, and will face seventh-seeded Newark Charter (12-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sussex Academy.

The winner advances to next Wednesday’s semifinals at University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium.

IR has never made an appearance in the championship game.

“We feel good. It’s very exciting that we did so well this season and I would say we have high hopes for the tournament, but we’re just taking it one game at a time,” said senior Rylie Cordrey.

Cordrey was a member of the 2016 and ’17 IR teams that went one-and-done in the postseason. She helped the Indians earn a 3-1 first-round win over Wilmington Friends School a season ago, but this year is different.

Without any seniors on the 2018 playoff team, IR returned the entire roster while adding a few talented freshmen.

“It’s been crucial,” Cordrey said of returning the whole team. “The group of seniors we have this year, we’ve all been here since freshman year, we work really hard and we try to set an example for the freshmen and sophomores, and it’s seemed to really pay off.”

“We did well last year – we made it to the second round – and they gelled as a group, so we kind of in a way just picked up where we left off and just added a few more to our roster,” said IR coach Jodi Stone. “It’s very exciting to be able to see how far they can take this.”

Joining Cordrey in the senior class are Avery Congleton, Kaylee Hall and Morgan Bomhardt.

“We’ve really bonded well over the past few years and I think we keep the team connected,” said Congleton. “Me, Rylie and Morgan all play the middle of the field, so we kind of keep the middle of the field together and connected and then Kaylee connects with the outside, so I think we keep the team well-rounded.”

Offensively, Indian River spread the ball around and seen production from up and down the lineup.

The Indians outscored opponents 78-15, posting seven shutouts in 15 games and allowing three or more goals in a game just twice.
Twelve players have scored at least once, led by a team-high 19 from junior Kayler Townsend. She also racked up seven assists.

Congleton registered 18 goals, while Cordrey and sophomore Emma Ruley also reached double digit totals at 13 and 11, respectively.
Brynn McCabe (six), Jessica Rybicki (three), Kinsley Hall (three), Bomhardt (one), Hall (one), Morgan McGee (one), Drew Szlasa (one) and Savannah O’Shields (one) round out the goal-scorers.

“It’s been a wonderful component to have, because we don’t rely on just one or two players,” said Stone. “We’re a very balanced team and I think that’s what has made us so successful. They just play really well together and balance each other out.”

While the offense has produced a pair of games with 10 or more goals, the Indians have also squeaked out wins in close games.

The Indians played four games that were decided by one goal, including a pair in overtime. IR went 4-0 in those games.

Leading the defense is goalkeeper Allyson Clark, in her second year as the full-time starter.

The junior racked up 50 saves and limited defending champion Delmar High — the only team to beat the Indians this season — to four goals on Oct. 12. It ties for the least number of goals scored in a game by the top-seeded Wildcats this year.

“This has really been the season of our lives,” said Clark. “It’s our dream team out here, we’re all best friends on the field and we really just love to be out there playing with each other…win or lose, we’re always a family.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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