The landscape of boys soccer in the Henlopen Conference this year is a lot closer than usual, which should make for some interesting races for the conference crown in the final two weeks of the season.
In recent years, boys soccer in the Henlopen Conference has come down to a two or three team race, with Caesar Rodney and Indian River high schools being the class of the conference lately.
This year CR and IR are right there in the mix again, but they’ve got some company this time around.
Sussex Tech High School is undefeated in the conference right now, while the Riders, Indians and Dover High School have one loss each, and Cape Henlopen High School has only dropped two Henlopen games.
“It’s a strange year because usually you have one or two teams up top, and everybody else is looking up,” CR Head Coach Darrell Gravatt said. “But this year there’re a lot of teams that could win the conference. You can’t take anybody for granted.”
The Riders still have Tech, Cape and IR in front of them on the remainder for the schedule, meaning they could heavily influence their chance to claim a conference title.
Gravatt said even though he wasn’t happy with his team’s lone conference loss to Smyrna High School, 5-4, Oct. 12, he’s still OK with the position the Riders are in right now.
“We definitely like our destiny still being in our hands,” he said. “We’d like to be undefeated but if we can run out and win them all from here we can still win the conference. You can’t ask for much more than that.”
On the other side of town, a young and fresh-faced Dover squad is suffocating its competition, allowing less than a goal per game and running off a streak of six straight shutouts already this season.
Head Coach Paul Booten said the next week should really help in more clearly defining the final Henlopen standings, adding that his team’s defensive play should keep it in the mix right to the end.
“We’re strong in goal and have got some senior leadership in the back,” Booten said. “We can score goals if we play our system. But defensively, that’s where we start and we go from there.”
The Senator coach said his players have discussed the possibility of earning a conference title, but stressed the importance of not looking too far down the road.
“They’ve been pretty good about playing one game at a time,” Booten said. “We start a lot of young players that play a lot so the senior leadership has been good about keeping them focused.”
One thing is for sure in the final two weeks of the boys soccer season, Gravatt said, and that is that there is a ton of high-level, high-pressure games left to be played by quite a few teams.
He added, however, that the pressure is something he and his players are embracing and thriving off of down the stretch.
“It’s a good kind of pressure and it’s an exciting finish to the end of this Henlopen season, maybe one of the most exciting that the Henlopen has had in a long time,” Gravatt said.
WHO Caesar Rodney High School (8-2, 8-1) vs. Cape Henlopen High School (7-3, 7-2)
WHEN 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21
WHERE Rider Stadium, 239 Old North Road, Camden
WHO Dover High School (8-1, 7-1) at Sussex Tech High School (7-1, 7-0)
WHEN 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21
WHERE 17099 County Seat Highway, Georgetown
Email Brian Citino at email@example.com