IR girls cap season with DIAA semifinals appearance

DOVER – For all but one team, the last game of the season is always the toughest.

Indian River High’s magical 2018 girls’ soccer run came to an end on the night of Wednesday, May 30 with a 4-0 shutout loss to Delaware Military Academy in the DIAA Div. II state tournament semifinals at Dover High.

Indian River had defeated Mt. Pleasant (2-1) and Caravel Academy (2-0) in the tournament’s first two rounds to set up the match-up with DMA. It marked IR’s first semifinals appearance since defeating the same DMA squad, 2-1, in the Div. II semis in 2016.

This time around, the 4-0 win for DMA puts the Lady Seahawks in the championship game for the first time in school history.

“This is our third time in the state semifinals and now our first time going to the championship,” said DMA head coach Wayne Cox. “We just played our style. We’ve got really talented midfielders and we put a lot of pressure on teams with our forwards. So, we can possess the ball and did a really good job with that.”

Indian River’s back line and senior goalkeeper Fabrea McCray held its ground in the first half Wednesday night, shutting the DMA offense out in the first 40 minutes of play.

“We trained specifically on making sure we didn’t allow them to run free and we did a really good job with that,” IR head coach Steve Kilby said of his team’s first-half performance.

With a 0-0 deadlock at the halftime break, it was senior Elise Buonopane who put the Lady Seahawks on the board with a goal in the 42nd minute.

Down 1-0, IR had a scoring opportunity and a chance to knot the game 1-1 but were unable to capitalize as DMA’s goalkeeper made a nice save in front of freshman forward Anastasia Diakos.

“That would’ve been huge to get it tied up. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” Kilby said of the missed opportunity.

Six minutes later, Buonopane scored her second of two goals after bouncing a free kick off an Indian River defender and into the back of the net.

“For any team, getting one is a total motivator and it changes the pace of the game, so I was happy that happened for our team and that we were able to push through and get two more after that,” Buonopane said of her quick second half goals.

Buonopane’s scoring outburst sparked DMA’s offense, as they put two more balls in the back of the net. The game’s third goal was off the head of freshman forward Alyssa Ruggeri, who delivered a header on a corner kick from Buonopane in the 61st minute.

Senior Melayna Immediato capped the scoring with DMA’s fourth and final goal in the 65th minute to put the game out of reach.

“Everything they scored was off set pieces,” Kilby said. “We gave up the first one, we countered – should’ve had a goal – they come right back with another set piece and it ends up being 2-0. Our lack of urgency on defending set pieces ended up being the difference. From there, the game was kind of broke.”

With a pair of goal-scoring forward freshmen, Isabella Binko and Anastasia Diakos, completing their first season at IRHS with three state tournament games, coach Kilby knows the future is bright.

“The future is really bright,” he said. “We’ve got two huge players to replace – Fabrea McCray, our goalkeeper and Sammi Whelen, who makes us go. We have people scoring goals but it’s because she’s doing all the work behind them. The future’s bright, but right now it’s a little bit dark.”

DMA out-shot IR 12-5 in the semifinal showdown. McCray made seven saves for the Lady Indians.

The DMA Lady Seahawks would go on to defeat Tower Hill, 1-0, to win the Div. II title Friday, June 1.

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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