By Kevin Eickman
Last year was a season of milestones for the Milford Buccaneers lacrosse team. Garnering the Henlopen South title for the first time, along with a 14-1 record has raised the bar for Milford lacrosse going forward. In just his first year as coach of Milford, Blake Faulkner did quite a job. After being hit hard by graduation, Faulkner knows that the job could be more difficult this season. One area of concern will be that of depth.
“We are going to be looking for players to step up and fill holes that exist. These are opportunities for players to show what they can do to contribute,” Faulkner said. “It really is about the attitude of next man up.”
Adding to the difficulty this season is a somewhat tougher schedule. It is a difficult but necessary step as Milford continues to attempt and improve the program. “Not to take away from last year, it was a great season for the program,” Faulkner commented. “When we looked back on it, we weren’t as tournament ready as we needed to be. Adding a higher level of competitor to the schedule is important if we want to be competitive in the playoffs.”
One key return from last season is senior Clay Stevenson. The Milford keeper will be the last line of defense and has been solid throughout his career. “Clay has been a leader for us ever since he stepped into the cage for us his freshman year.” Knowing that it is a transition year for Milford, Faulkner knows that Stevenson will be crucial in net. “Having Clay back there is huge for us, just knowing he is there to bail us out is very important.”
Along with Stevenson, Faulkner is counting on some other players to provide leadership as well “Micheal Holstein (senior) and Mark Henderson (senior) are players that provide natural leadership to the squad.” said Faulkner. Speaking of Henderson, Faulkner is hoping for big things for him in his final season as a Buccaneer. “Mark has gotten better every year and I am expecting nothing less from him this season,” Faulkner stated. “He has been a very special player for the program and I am expecting him to cement his legacy here at Milford.”
With new players being added to the mix, some will be asked to contribute at a fairly high level. One younger player to keep an eye out for is junior Brennan Hajek at attack forward. “We are expecting Hajek to step up for us and help make up for some of the offense we lost,” Faulkner stated.
A key loss occurred in the face-off circle. With Dillon Schleigh having graduated, Faulkner is hoping he can fill those big shoes. “I can’t talk about how much he meant to this team, it is a huge loss for the squad that we need to fill,” said Faulkner. Keep an eye out for freshman John Gaglione along with senior Elijah Kemp, who will be manning the circle for the Buccaneers “I think the combination of those two, will really be effective for us.” Faulkner stated.
One area of concern for Faulkner is in the area of fundamentals “It’s not one big thing, it’s a bunch of little things we need to improve at.” Faulkner continued “We saw at the scrimmage that we have the ability to put teams away, but we have to be able to do it consistently.”
Milford will start the season this Thursday at Lake Forest. Face off is set for 6:30.