By Kevin Eickman
As spring sports practices got underway this week, weather once again continued to cause havoc with the athletic schedules. A storm early in the week caused Milford lacrosse to miss out on some early season opportunities to get off to a quick start. The Buccaneers had two practices canceled last week, with a scheduled Saturday play day also falling victim to mother nature. The Buccaneers took to the practice field as they continued to try and once again improve on the previous season.
Now entering his fourth season as Milford head coach, Joe Vavala has consistently raised the level of Milford Lacrosse. With each successive season, the Bucs have continued to show improvement. This year Vavala hopes that the trend continues. “Our goal from day one has been to get better from practice to practice and game to game,” he stated.
Just watching the drills that Milford is running this season as compared to previous years, it is clear that the Bucs are ready to take that next step. Milford is working to raise their level of play on both sides of the ball. With assistant coach Malik Lopez running situational drills on one end of the field, it was clear that mental mistakes that would have been let go previously, will now be addressed immediately. When a defensive lapse caused an easy goal to be allowed, Lopez stopped the drill and spent the next two minutes explaining what had happened and how to prevent it in from occurring in the future.
The same was true as Vavala worked on shooting skills on the other end of the field, as the Bucs worked to make the most of offensive opportunities as they present themselves. “We are working on all aspects of the game, we want the players to be able to execute and be more creative as opportunities present themselves,” Vavala stated.
There is also another group of players on the field this season as well. Past players of Milford lacrosse are returning to help out. On this day there were seven graduates on the field to lend a hand with the drills that were being run. “One of the things we did was get the word out to former players, that if they were able to lend a hand, that would be great,” Vavala said. “We think it’s important that past players can provide a positive influence with how to play the game and share their love of the sport with the rest of the team.”
Milford will be returning some key players from last years 6-9 squad. At the top of the list will be senior Evan Becker. The four year starter is a play maker who makes those around him better. “Evan isn’t a rah-rah type, he is one of those guys who leads by example,” commented Vavala. “He was a captain as a junior and will probably fill that roll again this season.”
Sophomore Clay Stevenson will once again be minding the net for the Buccaneers. Excelling as a freshman, Vavala hopes that he can continue to improve. “Clay stepped in and was impressive last season and we are looking for him to getting even better this year.”
On defense senior Lucas Needles has been emerging as a leader. “Lucas has stepped up and shown his dedication to the team, he has stepped in and is really providing an example through his work ethic,” Vavala stated.
Milford will open their season at home on March 24 against Caravel Academy. The game will begin at 7:00 pm.