By TJ Millman
High school sports are unique in the fact that players are chosen only from areas in your district. It is not like college where players come from all over to fit into a system designed by the coach, but rather a coach is tasked with using what they have to make things work. This also goes for the amount of players that a coach is given to work with. Athletes come in waves, sometimes large and sometime small, and in the past two seasons Milford Field Hockey has lost 15 players to graduation.
This year, the Lady Bucs are going to be young. With only 5 seniors and 5 juniors, the remaining 20 players in the program are going to be from the freshman and sophomore classes.
“We have two very strong freshmen, Beau Davis and Olivia Muir, who I am expecting will make big contributions to our midfield. They will definitely be impact players for us this year,” Milford Head Coach Andrea McPike said. “Bella [Keesler-Evans] has some big shoes to fill at goalie, but she is going to rock it. She’s been working all off-season, and she does what it takes to get better every day. She’s also a great communicator on the field.”
Keesler-Evans will be replacing Leah Barnett, who has been a pillar of the Milford Field Hockey Team for the past 4 seasons. Aside from Keesler-Evans, McPike noted a few other sophomores who have emerged as key players as well.
“Samantha Jacona and Summer Davis both started for us last year and they both look great so far this year. Sammie has always been a good player, but she has really upped her leadership skills this year. Summer is a pure finesse player, full of skill with the ball,” McPike said.
While McPike is looking for contributions from her younger players, she is also seeing a lot of positives from her juniors and seniors.
“The senior class has really stepped up their leadership, setting the standard for Milford Hockey, and our juniors are chipping in as well.,” McPike said. “[Junior] Sara Wallace has been vocal, positive, and she’s always taking initiative throughout practices. We start practice at 8 AM, and she is out here before the coaches at 7:15.”
The Bucs also have a few experienced players switching around to fill in holes left by last year’s graduates. Senior Silvara Santiago is moving back to play defense as a center back after playing midfield in the previous seasons. Senior Vanasha Daniels is moving back to forward after playing in the midfield a season ago.
Joining the Bucs young team, is a group of young coaches as well. The Bucs have all new assistant coaches this year, and they are faces that McPike knows very well. Peyton Shockley, Sarah Silicato, and Morgan Lingo are all three Milford alumni that played under McPike before playing in college as well.
“This is exactly what I have been waiting for. My alum are here to help out the program with their years of experience, and it helps that they know what I expect. They know how I run my team, and their fresh energy has been keeping our practices competitive,” McPike said.
McPike wants improvement from her players, but the ultimate goal is to get back into the State Tournament and make some noise. The Lady Bucs begin their season at home against Poly Tech at 4 PM on Tuesday, September 11.
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