By Kevin Eickman
While it may not have been the way they wanted it, Milford High School lacrosse players are getting one last chance to play together as a team. With the high school season scuttled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, all spring sports were cancelled. This was especially disappointing for the Buccaneer seniors, who many believed were poised to take another step forward this season, with a senior-laden squad. Make no doubt about it, they would have been an exciting team to watch, after watching a large group of players grow into a solid unit. They had all put in the hard work and sacrifice. However, the 2020 lacrosse season will always be a team that would have garnered high praise for what it would have accomplished.
Last Thursday (July 9) however, a few of them, along with some younger players, joined by a few teammates from Lake Forest High School took to the field for their final season as Buccaneers. Coached by Ryan Deeney, the squad’s only coach, Milford was able to take a doubleheader in a pair of back to back games in the DE Turf summer league. While the sun may have been dipping down in the sky, it did little to suppress the heat and humidity on the field.
In the first game, Milford played a team made up primarily of Sussex Tech players. Milford played hard on its way to an easy opening victory. It was a win that if only for a little while made things feel just a little normal again. While the victory was nice, it was short-lived, as the Smyrna team took the field to battle Milford just 10 minutes following their victory. “It wasn’t very easy playing back to back games in weather like this, but the team is very well conditioned and have been wanting to get on the field for quite a while,” Coach Deeney stated.
The battle against Smyrna was a back and forth affair, with each team taking turns scoring goals. At the core of the Milford offense were Alex Herka and Charles Hayes, just to name two of the players that contributed. The recent Milford graduates were astute with their passing and shooting, allowing Milford to gain a 6-4 halftime advantage.
Smyrna was not going to go down without a fight however, battling back they were able to level the score at eight, midway through the second half. Following the mandatory water break, Milford would put the hammer down and come away with a well-earned 11-9 victory. “I felt we were much better than them technically, but we were starting to wear down a bit,” Deeney said. “The water break came at just the right time; we were able to refresh ourselves a bit and firm up our strategy. The team did a really great job finishing off the game.”
Following the game, we spoke with Herka and asked him why he was out here on a hot July night playing lacrosse, his answer was of little surprise. “It wasn’t easy to have our final season taken away from us like this, but this is still about Milford,” he said. “We are a family and families stick together through tough times. While I won’t be here next year, a lot of these guys will. So, if I can help them become better lacrosse players, if I can get just a few more games with guys I have played lacrosse with almost my entire life, I’m going to do it.” Herka will be attending Arcadia College (Pa.) starting this fall, conditions permitting.
When asked about the speed at which the league was put together, Deeney, who is the entire coaching staff was clear. “It came together very quickly, we had to get the players and their parents on board,” he said. “While it was hectic, it is well worth it to be able to say goodbye to our graduates and at the same time watch them help our players of the future.”