Standing in the net, armored from head to toe, she is an intimidating sight for any who oppose her. As a ball rolls close, she charges forward and the attacking forwards freeze. She cleanly kicks the ball to safety, a whistle blows, and the offense is thwarted yet again. This is only a practice, but it is difficult to tell when watching Milford Senior Leah Barnett.
Barnett has been the starting goalie for Milford Field Hockey since her freshman year, and some may expect such a position to bring complacency. Yet, there she is, diving to make saves, yelling out calls to her defense, and running full speed everywhere she needs to be. This makes sense however, because when asked about her personal goal for the season Barnett simply replied, “I hope to remain a varsity goal keeper and set a good example for the underclassmen”.
For this, Barnett understands what many athletes do not. Nothing on the field is given, and everything is earned. She is a natural leader according to her track coach, Patrick Helmick, who also noted Barnett as a standout jumper on his team.
“Coach (Andrea) Fleming always emphasizes that you can be a leader in many ways and at any grade, so we all lead each other. As seniors, we are the best to lead by example because after three seasons we know what the coaches expect from us and what it takes to be successful. I really just try my best to perform at my highest level, and show the younger girls what they need to do as a Milford Field Hockey Player,” Barnett said.
Playing goalie is a double-edged sword because at the end of the game you receive more attention than anyone else on the field. You get the glory for the wins, but you also get the blame for a loss. Barnett not only acknowledges this burden…she lives for it.
“Being a goalie is absolutely amazing, regardless of the pressure it puts on me. I just go into games knowing that I’ve been training hard and getting coached by great coaches, so I definitely have the tools to perform well even in intense games. I’m also very confident in my team to support me, motivate me, and keep the ball out of the circle as much as possible,” Barnett said.
Her team that she mentions is going to have a lot of new faces starting this year, but she isn’t worried at all.
“I’m actually really excited about watching everyone grow individually and learn how to work together on the field. Every year I love seeing how far my teammates have come at the end of the season. Everyone’s skills improve so much and it is really awesome to see that,” she said.
Like all high school athletes, Barnett is a student as well, and she manages to excel even more in that field. She is an all Honors student and recently earned the AP Scholar Award, an award for earning a 3 or higher on 3 different AP tests.
Leah and her Lady Bucs teammates start the season at home on Friday, September 8 against Appoquinimink High School at 4PM, as they shoot for another shot in the state tournament.
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