By Kevin Eickman
Just two games into the spring sports season, it is becoming apparent that the Milford girls’ soccer team is headed in a new direction. Under the leadership of first year coach Donovan Howard, the Lady Bucs are off to a 2-0 start. The record has come courtesy of a 2-0 victory at Polytech and a 9-0 thumping of Seaford on the road.
This past Thursday the Buccaneers took on the Blue jays at Seaford. While the Bucs may have started slow, they were able to find a rhythm and turn the game into a laugher by the start of the second half. “One of the things we are working on is coming out fast and today we struggled a bit to do that,” Howard stated. “We eventually got it going and we played with the intensity that we are always looking for.”
While it may be early in the season, there looked to be a marked improvement over last year’s squad. The Buccaneers were using combination passing and constantly apply to apply pressure off the break. Passing and teamwork are right at the top of the list for Howard when it comes to the skills he is looking for from the team. “We are just in the building stage right now. The development of a passing game along with a good defensive balance,” said Howard. “We are working on becoming a better soccer team in every way we can.”
Howard, who is the Dean of Students at Milford, is originally from South Africa. He developed a deep passion for the game early on and is trying to pass that enthusiasm on to his players. “It’s about having a love for the game, it’s about going out there and embracing what you are doing,” Howard said. “It’s more than just running around kicking a ball, it’s an extension of your education. You need to come out here ready to learn and ready to work on improving your game.”
Talking about his squad, Howard is grateful to have an abundance of leadership. One of the first players that came to mind was junior Daphne Leighty. “She is very strong and focused. She has been a leader for the girls during the off-season and she is continuing in that role,” said Howard. Along with Leighty, Howard has been thrilled with the number of girls stepping up. “Maggie Cantu, Melina Hudson and Margaret Sollie are girls that have continually demonstrated leadership,” Howard commented. “When you have a group as committed as that, they are taking ownership of the team, they are making the difference in what is going to benefit the team.”
Junior Hailey Morgan will be minding the nets for Milford and has already paid dividends in this young season. “Hailey came up with two huge saves against Polytech in the opener,” Howard stated. “Without her in net, we might not have been able to get the win in that game.”
Milford will play at Indian River this Thursday before their home opener April 12 against Caesar Rodney. The CR game will begin at 4 pm.