By TJ Millman
When speaking with Milford Field Hockey Head Coach Andrea Fleming before the season started, she listed three goals that she wanted to accomplish this year. They were to make the state tournament, to increase the level of play of each of her athletes, and for her younger players to gain experience playing at the varsity level. Milford missed the first goal this past Friday, when the State Tournament bracket came out and the Bucs were one of the last teams left off. Milford finished with a record of 7-7-1 and held a 2-1 victory over Indian River (7-5-3), who was named to the twelfth and final seed.
As for the latter two goals, Coach Fleming will find little to be unhappy with. Her players got better every single game, and by the end of the year her unit showed incredible growth.
“Our team had a tough job this year because they were in the shadow of that group of 8 seniors that left last year. Those 8 girls took up a lot of the varsity time over the last three years. We had players with some varsity experience, but outside of Darby (Brennan), Leah (Barnett), and Brea (Wells), a lot of our girls hadn’t experienced the full pressure of a varsity game. I’m so proud of the way this team came together, and of all the work they put in to get where they are now,” Fleming said.
Speaking of those younger players, Milford had 12 goals and 4 assists from underclassmen this season. Freshman Summer Davis and junior Vanasha Daniels led the way for the underclassmen with 3 goals each. All four assists were spread out evenly at one a piece by Summer Davis, Vanasha Daniels, sophomore Olivia Cromer, and junior Jessie Donovan.
Senior Anna Sollie led the Bucs in goals, scoring six, and senior Darby Brennan led in assists with 8. Brennan also led in total points (goals and assists added together) with 13. Outside of the seniors’ goal contributions, Fleming is also going to miss the leadership that her senior class provided this year.
“Once August 15th hit, the leadership of these girls took off from day one. We never had a gap in our leadership. These seniors just took the role over, and they completed it so well. This year was a mental grind for our girls, and our seniors never let anything keep them or their teammates down,” Fleming said.
At times, Milford’s team was capable of playing with some of the best teams in the state. They played evenly with Cape Henlopen for the first half of their game, and against Lake Forest the Bucs were only a few missed opportunities from the upset. Milford’s learning curve was steep, but by the end of the year this team’s work showed through.
Even though this year’s team fell short of their tournament goals, the Bucs can hold their head’s high and know that they gave it their all. Every game was a battle, and they left it all on the field. Looking to next year, the future is bright. Milford played a slew of younger players this year, and will have experience across the board.
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