By Kevin Eickman
Heading into this season Milford Field Hockey coach Andrea Fleming-McPike made it clear that big things are expected from this year’s squad. While it may be early, there is little doubt the Buccaneers are headed in the right direction. This past Thursday Milford faced off against the Ravens of Sussex Tech, a team the Buccaneers had never defeated. This time would be different however as Milford walked away with a 5-0 victory.
From the opening whistle, Milford dominated play with an aggressive attack. In what looked to be a three headed monster, Milford repeatedly worked the ball into the penalty circle. With junior Darby Brennan working midfield and seniors Rajene Bowe and Megan Fry on the wings, the attack was relentless. Brennan was continually finding her teammates on accurate passes, causing the visiting Ravens back on their heels. The only thing Milford had to show for their effort at the end of the first half however, was a 0-0 score.
“We spent a lot of time in their end the first half, but we were not playing with a whole lot of confidence in the circle. Tech was building a wall in the circle and we hesitated a bit getting to the ball,” Fleming-McPike stated.
In the second half Milford ratcheted up the pressure, gaining a number of chances resulting in penalty pieces. With the in-bounds feed getting distributed by Brennan, it seemed like just a matter of time before Milford would break into the score column. That moment came with Fry collecting the ball in the box and smashing it home for the first goal of the game with 26:33 remaining in the game. It would be the first of her two goals.
“Scoring the first goal was very important, when you work as hard as we did and you’ve put in that much work, you want to get the goal,” Fleming-McPike stated.
Following the game’s first tally, the Ravens attempted to go on the attack. While they were able to work the ball into the Milford side of the field, they had little success while attempting to penetrate the penalty area. The Buccaneers defense would be so effective on Thursday, they allowed a scant two shots on goal the entire game. This allowed junior keeper Leah Barnett to record her second consecutive shutout. Even when the defense looked like it might be a bit stretched, someone was always there to make a play.
“When you take a look at the job the defense did today, incredible would be the best way to describe it,” Fleming-McPike commented. “Everyone did their job and made correct decisions on defense and because of that we were able to get out on the break all game and keep pressure on Tech.”
With Milford becoming more effective on the counter attack, it seemed inevitable that they would score again. Senior Rajene Bowe would double the lead as she netted the first of her two goals of the game with 23:37 remaining.
The other scorer for the Buccaneers was Brennan, who converted on a penalty stroke for her goal. Speaking with Brennan after the game, it was clear she was happy with how the team played against Tech. “We really kept the pressure on all game long and finally got the goal to start the scoring in the second half,” Brennan stated.
With the win, Milford moved to 3-0 on the season and is looking to keep the winning going. “Beating Tech was a goal, but there is much more we want to accomplish as a team,” Fleming-McPike stated. “We know if we keep pushing, this can be a special season.”
Milford will face a stiff test Tuesday as they host a 3-0 Polythech team at 4pm.
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