The Caesar Rodney Riders’ boys soccer squad has seen its fair share of success over the past few seasons, finding their way into the state semifinals a season ago.
Now, just over half-way through the 2013 campaign the 7-1 Riders have their eyes on another deep run in the playoffs this time around.
Coming into the season, the Riders had aspirations of contending for a state title with the likes of Salesianum, St. Elizabeth, Charter School of Wilmington, and conference foe Cape Henlopen. So far, they’ve stood tall amongst the rest of the state’s elite, currently in second place in the Henlopen North behind the 9-1 Cape Henlopen Vikings, whom they defeated 2-1 just two weeks ago.
The only hiccup of the season for the Riders was a 2-1 overtime loss to Charter School of Wilmington back in late September. And while they weren’t able to come up with the victory in their first real test of the season, the Riders know they put forth a good enough effort to win.
“Our team played evenly with one of the best teams in the state which is a good sign,” said Rider Head Coach Darrell Gravatt about the loss to Charter. “We held possession of the ball and we had several scoring changes in the game. We also defended well; only giving up one goal in regulation time. “
Since the loss to Charter, the Riders have been nearly flawless going 5-0 and outscoring their opponents 36-3.
Leading the offensive charge has been a mix of talented seniors and up-and-coming juniors, making the Riders one of the more dangerous teams in the state when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the net.
Seniors Chimaobi Ikwuagwu, Nick Gruwell, Garrett Dixon and Austin Hayward find the score sheet practically every night for the Riders. Meanwhile, juniors Adrian Coverdale, Henry Cantu, Thomas Aloe, and Jaki Farlow have pulled more than enough of the weight this season to help lead the Riders to their current 7-1 record.
However, the biggest piece to the Riders state-title hopes puzzle has to be the man between the pipes.
Junior goal keeper Kevin Sheahan has answered his incredible sophomore campaign with perhaps an even better effort in goal this season for the Riders.
Sheahan has allowed just six goals this season, while earning three shutouts (one combined with Justin Wutka), in the Riders’ eight games.
“His play is critical to our team’s success,” said Gravatt. “In my opinion, the keeper position is about one third of the game in importance; even though it is just one position. Kevin is a third-year starter, a captain of our team and he is our vocal leader in the back. He’s as good as it gets in the net. With him playing, CR always has a legitimate chance to beat any team in the state.”
After a match up with Glasgow (2-5-2) on Tuesday, the Riders will face off against rival Dover (9-1-1) on Thursday night in a fierce Henlopen Conference battle.