By Kevin Eickman
While their season may not ended as they had hoped, there is little doubt that Milford continues to head in the right direction. This year’s squad did a great job under the leadership of coach Andrea Fleming, qualifying for the State tournament in consecutive years. While Milford may not have accomplished all they wanted to, there was plenty to take pride in this year, which saw Milford finish with a 13-2 record. “The team unity and the way they came together and their cohesiveness. The way they supported each other on and off the field are things they’ll never forget,” Fleming stated.
Milford 1 Concord 0
This past Tuesday Milford hosted Concord in the opening round of the DIAA Field Hockey Tournament. In what turned out to be a thriller of a game, Milford earned their first tournament victory in 20 years. The game was full of opportunity for Milford, who dominated in almost every aspect but the score board.
The Buccaneers came out flying from the start and pressured the visitors relentlessly. Time and again, Milford had their chances in the first half, but could not convert. When the teams entered the second half knotted at zero, it looked as if it would be just a matter of time before they would break the game over. As the minutes ticked by however, the feeling that Milford might not be able to score began to develop.
With nine minutes remaining and the issue still in doubt, Milford had their best opportunity to break the deadlock as senior Rajene Bowe ran deep down the right side and sent a fantastic crossing pass into the box. As they had all afternoon, Milford failed to find the back of the net as neither of the two Buccaneer players in front of goal could lay a stick on it.
Even with having spent the majority of time in their own end, with just over five minutes remaining Concord mustered a breakaway that was only stopped by a beautiful save from junior keeper Leah Barnett. “Leah has been solid for us all season, she has been unbelievable,” said Fleming.
Milford would have on final opportunity to settle the issue in regulation as they got the ball into the circle in the closing seconds, but could not connect. For the second consecutive year, they would be headed for overtime.
It was becoming evident that both teams were beginning to tire in the extra session, when senior Rajene Bowe finally settled the issue. Breaking in from the right side of the circle, she was finally able to knock in the goal that would advance Milford to the second round at the 7:57 mark of overtime. The Milford sideline erupted and ran on the field in celebration. In Bowe’s mind, she was confident that here team would get it done. “We knew that we were dominating, we just weren’t capitalizing. We just had to stay composed and we knew it would come in the end,” she said.
Delmar 4 Milford 0
Milford only lost two games this year, both of them were to Delmar by the identical 4-0 score. The first loss cost them the Henlopen South, the second resulted in the end of their season. This past Saturday Milford traveled to Delmar for a second round tournament game against the Wildcats. Milford would concede an early goal, but seemed to settle in much better than they had in their first match against Delmar, even though the Wildcats controlled the pace of play. Milford would even get a few chances on the opening half, although they were unable to convert.
“Maybe if we would have had one goal go in, it would have re-lit the fire and given us the confidence we needed,” Fleming stated.
While the 4-0 defeat may have ended the Buccaneers season, it did little to diminish all that has been accomplished by this team. “We went 13-2 when just three years ago we were 5-10.” Fleming stated. Fleming has been with this particular group of seniors for quite a long time and emotions were high following the game.
“This is a group that I started working with when they were in Middle School, they would come to my clinics and camps that I had,” Fleming said. “This group of seniors has really increased the level of commitment and dedication for the Milford program.”
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