By Kevin Eickman
Last season was a good one for Milford field hockey, posting a 10-4 regular season record and qualifying for the State tournament; where they fell to Wilmington Friends 1-0. The season marked the second consecutive season that saw the Buccaneers qualify for the playoffs. The question now becomes, can Milford continue their recent success. Losing a wealth of talent to graduation, Milford is going to have to rely on some young players if they want to continue to keep the program headed in the right direction.
Coach Andrea Fleming will be fielding a team that will have four freshman playing at the varsity level, a challenge Fleming thinks her young team can handle. “We may have some less experienced players, but they have a talent for the game, and we expect them to contribute,” Fleming said. One of the key vacancies that will have to be filled, is that of goalkeeper Rebekah Yanacek. The competition has come down to two players, freshman Bri Cahall and junior Sydney Stump. “These two girls have been pushing each other, and at the same time making each other better because of it,” Fleming stated. “The level of play for both players has continued to improve, it’s making this a very difficult decision.”
With a squad that includes only four seniors, Fleming expects to rely heavily on them for leadership on the field. Sydney Reynolds, Lizzy Stangl, Morgan Lingo and Hannah Baker are expected to play key parts for the Milford squad. Captains for this year’s squad will be Reynolds and Lingo, joined by junior Kayla Brennan. Other players have begun to step up as well, juniors Haylee Scruggs, Kasey Fry and Deaven Maul have all picked up their play of late. One of the freshman that has impressed Fleming is Kate Melvin. “As a freshman, she has stepped on the field and is a take charge type of player,” commented Fleming.
When asked how the team looks to this point, Coach Fleming was pleased, but knows there will be a few bumps in the road. “This group has worked incredibly hard and their effort is going to pay dividends,” comented Andrea. “We also know at the same time, that we are a young squad and there is going to be a learning curve.” Despite having a younger team, Fleming has still set the goal of qualifying for the State tournament. “Our goal is to make the playoffs, we have the talent to do it,” Fleming added. “If this team continues to work as hard as they have been, I believe we will be there in the end.”
Milford will open the season on the road September 10 at Seaford. They follow that up at home September 12, hosting defending State Champions, Cape Henlopen. When asked about the prospect of playing Cape, Fleming had a interesting response. “Our first game is against Seaford, that’s who we are worried about right now,” stated Fleming. “We play all our games one at a time, that’s who we are getting ready for, we don’t look ahead. So yes, when Cape comes here, we will be ready for that game, just like all the others.”