By Kevin Eickman
Last season the Milford girls’ soccer team posted a 9-5-1 record, while it was a winning one, the record was not good enough to earn the Bucs a spot in the DIAA State tournament. Finding themselves on the outside looking in for the second year in a row, Milford was also faced with the fact that they graduated nine players off last years squad. “Having to replace that many players will be a tough task for the team.” coach Keith Short stated. “While it’s going to be a challenge, it also presents a great opportunity for a lot of players.”
With the challenge of putting a young team on the field, Short believes that the attitudes of his young charges will be key to how the team performs this season. “It’s very important for them to remain highly motivated, there are going to be ups and downs this season, and how they respond to the challenges that present themselves will be key,” Short stated.
With early season practices being hampered by poor weather, it has created another challenge for the young squad. “Every team has had to miss practice time due to the weather and while that can be a challenge, we have taken advantage of it by working on the mental aspect of the game,” said Short.
In addition to losing striker Rebekah Yanacek, Milford also graduated standout goalkeeper Brooke Hughes. While expecting a keeper with the quality of huge to emerge immediately, the fact that there has been a three way competition for the position should prove beneficial for Milford. “There has been a real battle for goalkeeper, and because of it each one has improved,” Short commented. “It has been exciting and right now Haley Morgan has an edge, but there is nothing etched in stone.”
The Bucs will not be totally without experience however as Short expects returning players sophomore Angela Gleysteen, Maggie Silva and Jenin Rodriguez, along with senior Sydney Reynolds to play key rolls this year. “These girls will need to step up and play key rolls for us during the course of the season,” Short stated. Of those Reynolds will be provide leadership as well as minutes.
While there was some speculation that the number of players might prohibit at a JV schedule, the fact that over 30 girls came out for the team will ensure that does not happen. “I think the fact that we had so many girls come out for the team is important,” stated Short. “Being able to play both a varsity and junior varsity schedule is very important to the growth of the program.”
When asked where the team is at right now, Short believes that they are starting to develop team chemistry. “It’s been such a short period of time, the girls are starting to better understand how to work together,” said Short. “I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly they are understanding what it takes to be a team.”
While making the tournament is a goal for any team, Short believes that what he really wants to see is the team improve as the season progresses. “Our goal this year is to get better as the season goes on, we have a lot of learning to do, so as long as we get better as the year goes on I’ll be happy.” Short said. Milford will open the season hosting Dover on March 25 at 4 pm.