By Kevin Eickman
Returning to the State tournament following a two year absence was always a goal this season for Milford field hockey. Making some noise in that tournament was another. While one goal was accomplished, the Buccaneers came tantalizingly close to accomplishing the second.
Traveling north to Hockessin this past Tuesday afternoon, Milford faced off against a determined Wilmington Christian School team. Under windy and damp conditions the two teams squared off and produced a classic overtime thriller. Unfortunately for the visiting Buccaneers, fortune was not on their side.
One thing the Buccaneers had been guilty of in quite a few games this season was starting slowly. Tuesday was no different, as before the game had barely started Milford was facing a 1-0 deficit just 1:06 seconds into the game.
While fazed by giving up the quick goal, Milford would be able to regain there composure. During a timeout, coach Andrea Fleming challenged her players. “I explained to them that this was it, there weren’t going to be any more games if we didn’t win this one,” said Fleming. The Buccaneers were able to respond to the challenge and equalized just 13 minutes into the game, as junior Daphne Leighty was able to score off a pass from fellow junior Rajene Bowe. The 1-1 tie would hold up until halftime.
Following the break, Bowe would give the Buccaneers the lead in the game’s 40th minute. It was a lead that would Milford would not only protect, but come tantalizingly close to expanding. “We had some real chances, but sometimes we didn’t get it on the net or they would come up with a great save,” Fleming stated. Staring in the game for Milford was junior Kate Melvin and sophomore Darby Brennan. “Kate and Darby played the games of their young careers on Tuesday, they were outstanding,” said Fleming. “The whole team played their best game of the season, they were communicating and passing, it was everything we had been working for all season long.”
Unfortunately for Milford, fate was not on their side this past Tuesday. Wilmington Christian would equalize in the game’s 50th minute, on what many considered to be a controversial goal. As a result, the teams would end regulation knotted at two goals apiece. Wilmington Christian would earn the game winning sudden death goal, in the game’s 70th minute.
While the loss eliminated the Buccaneers from the playoffs, it is the type of game that should serve them well in the future. This is a team that has steadily improved their level of play under Fleming and with a vast majority of this year’s squad slated to return in 2016 the future looks bright for the Buccaneers. “The girls were really positive about the experience, they now see what they are capable of,” Fleming stated. “Now that they have a taste of how good it can be, I think they are going to come back with a real fire next season.”