By Kevin Eickman
In a perfect world, every game a team plays would mean just as much as any other. The world of athletics however, is far from perfect. There is little doubt that this past Thursday’s contest between previously undefeated Caesar Rodney, and the Milford Lady Buccaneers was anything but just another game. With the Riders traveling down to Milford it was a chance for the Lady Bucs to make a statement as to what they are all about.
The game is an indication that this year’s field hockey team is not afraid of a challenge. After the first half had ended tied at 1-1, Milford was able to gain the advantage early in the second half. The lead came courtesy of a goal by senior Alyssa Mills, giving the Bucs a 2-1 advantage.
Caesar Rodney wasn’t going to go away easy, however, as the Riders provided constant pressure throughout the second half. Milford combined opportunistic defense and a solid performance in goal by standout Rebekah Yanacek to stay alive. In a game in which Caesar Rodney enjoyed a 12-6 corner advantage, it was the defensive effort by Yanacek, who had 16 saves in the match, that inspired the team.
The Riders equalized at 2-2 in the second half and a tense battle of nerves ensued. On numerous occasions Yanacek turned back Caesar Rodney attacks with spectacular and aggressive goal keeping. Unfortunately for Milford, it got a little too aggressive. With time winding down Yanacek drew a yellow card, warranting the removal of a player. Playing with one less player, the pressure mounted on the already severely tested defense. Milford didn’t waiver
“In a situation like that, everyone needs to dig deeper and try harder,” commented Coach Andrea Fleming.“You can’t think about how many people are on the field, you just have to give it your best.”
Milford was able to keep the Riders scoreless as regulation expired, but there was little doubt Caesar Rodney would net a goal in overtime. With Milford reduced to five players and a goalie, it seemed like just a matter of time before it was over. While CR threatened early, Milford refused to yield. Milford took advantage of the open field and scored the game winner on a goal by sophomore Haylee Scruggs on an assist from senior Peyton Shockley. The sudden death goal set off a huge celebration from the Milford faithful.
The Lady Bucs continued their success last week on Saturday, October 6, as Milford Varsity Field Hockey defeated St. Mark’s 4-1 on the Spartan’s home turf. Peyton Shockely scored two goals as Destiny Sivels and Haylee Scrugga scored one goal each to seal the victory.
This victory moved Milford to 6-2 on the season, a record that many suspected would be much worse after a season opening defeat to Lake Forest. Coach Fleming has been pleased with how the team has preformed to this point in the season.
“After a slow start, they have picked it up quite a bit. They are continuing to improve and are working very hard,” Fleming said. The Buccaneers have found a way to compete even when not at their best, a trait Fleming knows is a strength of this unit “This is a very resilient group, the refuse to quit, and you have to admire that.” she said.
With the season half over, Milford knows there is plenty of work yet to be done. There are areas that need attention that the Bucs will continue to improve on moving forward “We need to be more consistent, we need to continue to improve in that area,” commented Fleming. The other area that Fleming feels could do better is on defense “We have had a few break downs that have been costly, we need to correct that.” she added.
The Lady Bucs have now positioned themselves to make a serious run at a State Tournament birth. Their next home game is against 7-1 Delmar on Wednesday, October 10th at 4pm.