Caravel scores early, blanks IR 2-0 in Division II soccer final

SMYRNA — It wasn’t something Caravel sophomore Sierra Frey had planned.

Then again, her goal 45 seconds into Friday’s Division II girls’ soccer state championship match against Indian River was similar to one she scored earlier in the tournament.

From the right hash on the Smyrna High football field about 20 yards out, Frey chipped her scoring shot just inside the left post. Then the No. 2 Buccaneers’ defense took over, leading to a 2-0 victory and the program’s third consecutive state title.

“It happened earlier in the tournament against St. Georges,” Frey said of her shot selection. “This one was a lot better. I saw the opening and I was hoping to get a shot on net. It worked.”

Caravel (14-3-1) got an insurance goal from freshman Summer Stewart 75 minutes later before running out the clock.

The No. 1 Indians (16-3) didn’t back down after the early score.

Instead, with the Buccaneers often electing to keep just one player forward through most of the match, IR took the offensive. For the majority of both halves, the Indians kept the ball on Caravel’s side of the field but struggled to put shots on frame.

When the Indians did get shots on goal, freshman keeper Sydney Keld was typically in position to make a save. Frey’s quick goal helped take some of the pressure off her and the defense, Keld said.

“I was really happy, because I think it helped get our confidence up right after we scored the goal,” said Keld, who was credited with seven saves but had multiple touches throughout the match. “Definitely in the first half I was touching the ball a lot, but we have a great defense who helped me a lot. Our communication helped us win the game. We’re all great friends and we work well together.”

IR’s best chance to tie the game came with 28 minutes remaining in regulation on one of its four corner kicks.

Senior Brooke Beam managed to find a seam and sent the ball through the penalty box, but classmate Aline Check-Guzman just missed connecting with a deflection attempt that would’ve had a good chance at scoring the equalizer. Beam also had two long attempts thwarted in the second half – one by Keld that was fired from the left sideline 25 yards out and another by the Buccaneers defense on a 21-yard free kick.

Players on both teams earned yellow cards – Caravel two, IR one – in what was a physical game. That physicality, Indians coach Steve Kilby said, played a role in the shutout.

“In the second half we really possessed more than they did. We created some opportunities,” Kilby said, adding that it was a matter of finishing those chances where the Indians struggled. “Between that (not finishing) and the physicality of the game… It made it difficult.”

For the Indians, who lost to Caravel 3-1 in last year’s championship match, it was another strong season despite ending runner-up. Now the team will look to replace the most accomplished senior class in program history. One that is sending three – Beam, Guzman and Davina Baine – to play collegiately.

“It’s a great group of girls,” Kilby said of the senior class. “They work so hard. And for us, it’s a community thing. It’s (losing the senior class) really kind of a sad thing.”

Jeff Mitchell covers sports for southern Delaware. You can reach him at jmitchell@newszap.com

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