By Kevin Eickman
This past Thursday the Milford Buccaneers field hockey team announced the players who had been voted captains for this year’s squad. As coach Andrea Fleming addressed the squad, she shared the sentiment that has exemplified her five years behind the helm of the team. “While some players may wear the arm bands, there are so many others that lead in many different ways,” Fleming stated. “Whether it is with your voice or your actions, there are so many of you that act as an example to your teammates.”
The other point that Fleming emphasized was one of consistency. It was that very lack of consistency last season that saw the Buccaneers miss out on the State tournament, despite posting a respectable 8-6-2 record. The reason behind not qualifying for the tournament was some bad losses against teams that Milford should have been able to handle. “There was no doubt about the fact that we played down to some teams last season and at the end of the day it cost us,” said Fleming. “One of our main goals this season is to be consistent, we really need to bring the same level of intensity to every game that we play.”
The three players named to the position of captain this year are all juniors Rajene Bowe, Katelyn Melvin and Hayden Shockley. It is fairly obvious speaking with them that the Buccaneers appear to all be on the same page. “We had issues last year when we didn’t always bring the intensity that we needed,” Bowe said. “We need to be consistent every game if we want to make the playoffs.” Speaking with Shockley, she thinks Milford has what it takes for a successful season. “If we play as hard as we are capable of we can be in the running for the [Henlopen] south this year.” Shockley went on to say, “We just want to keep on getting better and learn from last season.”
One of the aspects that have been a trademark of the field hockey team under the leadership of Fleming has been a feeling of togetherness. Speaking with Melvin about it, she thinks it is something that can translate to the field. “We all really like each other and get along well with one and other,” Melvin said “We all like each other, so playing hard and helping each other get better should be something that comes naturally.”
While this year’s squad will have only one senior on it, it is far from inexperienced. Most of the players on this year’s team saw significant action last season and it should serve them well going forward. Fleming does wish that there were a few more players on this year’s squad however she still believes that she has “the makeup of a solid squad.” She stated that “It’s about staying healthy and focused, we can do both with the team that we have.”
A pair of younger players to keep an eye on are sophomores Leah Barnett and Darby Brennan. Both are very talented with high ceilings and will be looked to as key contributors. Barnett had a few starts in goal last season and will be expected to have many more this year. “I think the experience last season will serve me well going forward. There is no substitute for experience,” Barnett stated. Brennan has the potential to be a rare talent in mid-field. She has skill and knowledge that is extremely advanced for her age. Her goals for the year, just like every other player, is for one thing “to make the State tournament, that is what we are working for and that is our goal.”
Milford will face a difficult schedule to start the season as their first three games will be on the road against Woodbridge, Sussex Tech and Polytech. Their first opportunity at home will be September 24th against Dover.