By Kevin Eickman
From the start of the season, one of the goals that both Milford field hockey and soccer had was to qualify for the State Tournament in their respective sports. This past Friday the DIAA released the tournament schedule and both teams have reached their goal.
In boys’ soccer, the Milford Buccaneers qualified as the 11 seed in the twelve team Division II tournament. With an 8-6-1 the Buccaneers qualified on the strength on a late season surge, winning three of their last for games. The only loss came at the hands of Division I Sussex Central, in a 3-2 overtime thriller. Central is the fourth seed in the D-I tournament.
The Buccaneers earned two huge victories in the last week of the season. Traveling down to Sussex Academy last Saturday morning and coming away with a 1-0 victory against the Seahawks, who earned the number eight seed in the D-II tournament. Milford followed that up with a come from behind 2-1 victory at Lake Forest to secure their playoff spot. “When it came down to crunch time the guys got it done, that’s what good teams do,” coach Todd French stated.
Milford will face off against the number six seed Saint Mark’s 7-4-4 this Tuesday at Dover high school at 6pm. Saint Mark’s will present a big test for the Buccaneers, but French believes that his team has what it takes to get the job done. “Saint Marks is a very tough, physical team, we know that they are going to be a big challenge,” French said. “It is up to us to match the intensity that they are going to bring, we need to be ready for it and match it.”
The issue of the field hockey team had been settled long ago. Finishing the season with a 13-2 record, Milford earned the number six seed and will host a Concord squad who finished the year with a 9-3-3 record. The field hockey team has continually improved under the guidance of Coach Andrea Fleming and her staff. Over the course of the programs development, Fleming has repeatedly given credit to assistants Dawn Robinson and Brittany Blacksten. Fleming knows that Concord will be tough to beat. “We know that they are going to come here ready to compete,” Fleming stated. “It’s about everyone working hard and coming together as a team.”
Milford came tantalizingly close to their first tournament victory under Fleming last season, dropping a heart breaker to Wilmington Christian School in the opening round. Wilmington Christian would eventually make it to the tournament semi-finals, indicating to Milford that they could play with the better teams in the State.
The Buccaneers had a difficult stretch towards the end the season, falling 4-1 to Delmar on senior day and losing the Henlopen South in the process. Milford would also fall in overtime 2-1 to reigning State Champions Cape Henlopen in a game that saw junior keeper Leah Barnett turn back 18 Cape shots.
If Milford makes it out of the first round, their most likely opponent in the second round would be Delmar. With the possibility of a rematch from arguably their worst game of the season, Milford would like nothing better than to defeat Concord to set up a return bout against the Wildcats.“We have played all our games one at a time the entire season. We have made it a point of not looking ahead, our only focus is on Concord right now,” said Fleming.
Face-off for Wednesday’s contest will be at 2:30.
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