IR captures second soccer title in three seasons

SMYRNA — The name of the team hasn’t changed, of course.

But most of the players from the 2013 Indian River High Division II boys’ soccer state championship squad have graduated.

IR defeated Caravel for a Division II boys' soccer state championship. (Sussex County Post/Andy Walter)

IR defeated Caravel for a Division II boys’ soccer state championship. (Sussex County Post/Andy Walter)

So when the Indians won their second state title on Saturday night, with a 1-0 win over Caravel, it was with both a sense of pride for the program but also for this particular group of players.

Goalie Ian Walls was the only senior starter for fifth-seeded IR (15-5), which avenged a loss to the No. 2 Buccaneers in last year’s state semifinals. The Indians were only 5-5 before finishing the season with a 10-game winning streak.

“We struggled a little early in the season but we got it figured out,” said coach Steve Kilby. “You’ve got to find different players to depend on.”

“Two years ago when they won it, they were a completely different team,” said sophomore Oscar Cruz-Osorio. “They had a lot more height. Now we’re a small team but still very technical.”

Cruz-Osorio tallied the game’s only goal just 20 minutes into the contest. He got a through ball down the right side, went to his left and hit a low shot to the left side for the only goal IR needed against Caravel (15-4), the defending Division II state champion.

“When I shot it, I already knew where it was going,” said Cruz-Osorio. “We knew it was really important (to score early). If we let them hang on too long, it would have been like the games we had earlier in the season.

“We were 0-0 and then they were giving us a battle. It was hard for us to then get the goal later in the game.”

The Indians ended up posting shutouts in all four of their state tournament games. Counting the Henlopen Conference championship game win over Cape Henlopen, IR finished the season with five straight shutouts.

The Bucs had their chances but never came up with the equalizer.

“When you score early, the intensity goes up with the other team,” said Kilby. “Caravel is very well coached, they’re very well organized. We knew we wanted to keep certain players in front of us all the time and we did a pretty good job of that. That was a big part of our success tonight.”

The game ended just after Caravel got off one last corner kick. The ball bounced harmlessly away from the cluster of players in front of the goal, the final whistle sounded and IR’s players sprinted happily into the middle of the field to celebrate.

A few moments later, they rushed over to the bleachers to celebrate with their student section.

“Last year we came close,” said Walls. “This was a chance to set ourselves apart again as the champions.

“It’s just great. There’s no words to describe it. It’s just awesome.”

Delaware State News sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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