By TJ Millman
For the first time in a long time, Milford Lacrosse is making cuts. After making the State tournament in 3 of the last 4 seasons, as well as winning 2 Henlopen Southern Conference titles, it only makes sense that the Bucs would see an increased turnout. Couple that with Milford’s growing youth lacrosse program, and the culture of Milford Lacrosse is changing. Winning is in the air and on the mind of every kid who steps out on the turf.
“We had an awesome turnout for tryouts this year. It’s tough because you never want to get rid of any kids, and you don’t want them to get discouraged, but it comes with the territory. The more kids that we have with experience before they get to high school, the tougher it is for us to make those decisions…but it’s a good problem to have. I give the credit to our youth program for building these kids into lacrosse players as they grow up, and getting them excited about the game at such a young age. What you’ve seen these last few years, and this year included, is the reward from having these kids start playing before they get to high school,” Milford Head Coach Blake Faulkner said.
The practices so far have been more intense than previous years, in part due to the looming cuts, but also because of a lingering distaste from the end of last season. The Bucs were ousted from the tournament in a 21-2 loss at the hands of Caesar Rodney, and Faulkner has noticed that his players are really stepping their game up to try to compete with the bigger schools this year.
“I think we have great kids every year, but you can definitely see a change in the group this year. A lot of our returning players still have a salty feeling about how last year went, and they know that they want things to change. Some of our leadership has helped change that, and the younger guys that we have coming in seem hungrier than they have in the years passed. This is probably the best I have ever seen Milford Lacrosse, looking specifically at effort,” Faulkner said.
Speaking of those younger guys, Milford is an incredibly young team. With only 3 seniors out of the almost 50 kids trying out, Milford is going to rely on some young, and some entirely new, faces to keep the Bucs on the winning end of things.
“It’s great having these talented young players, but sure there are going to be challenges. We have to work on their lacrosse IQ, knowing when to cut, where to be without the ball, and all that, but that’s just part of growing as a player. The other thing that is tough is keeping the young guys humble. Young guys can have a tendency to get ahead of themselves, but we work hard to keep them grounded. Still, having these young players is great. The sooner you start playing, the more experience you can get, and the better you will be in the long run,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner’s goals for this year are the same as they are every year. He wants to improve on the year before, reach the team’s maximum potential, and like every other team in the state, he wants to win it all. Milford begins their season on Friday, March 23 at Lake Forest. The game is set for 6:00 PM.
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