By Kevin Eickman
Since Andrea McPike took over as the Milford field hockey coach, the program has always looked to improve from one season to the next. At first glance, last season’s 5-10 record was not up to the standards McPike has set for her squad. Taking a closer look however, it was not as if the season was a total disaster for Milford.
“Last year we did a lot of learning. The girls went through some adversity but when you really stop and think about it we did get better as the season went on,” McPike stated.
With lessons learned and experience gained, McPike believes Milford is ready for an improvement this season. “The goal is always the same, we play to win but more importantly we play to learn,” said McPike. “We have a returning core group with what I believe is solid senior leadership as well as some newcomers that we expect to help us improve off of last season. This pre-season you can really see how much passion and fun they are having on the field. I think it’s really going to translate to wins for us.”
Another indication that Milford is in a much better position than last season is the number of players on the Milford squad. “For the first time since I have been here we have full varsity and junior varsity squads. That is going to give us a depth that we are going to take advantage of,” commented McPike. “We are going to be able to substitute a lot more freely and we should be able to remain fresh throughout the entire game. Wearing down can be a big issue and I think that is something that we are not going to have to worry about.”
One of the key factors contributing to the increase in the size of the squads is the fact that Milford will be allowing eighth graders to participate at the high school level. Three of them have made junior varsity, while Erin Dunlap has qualified for the varsity squad. “It’s something we are very excited about, to be able to get the girls into the program a season earlier is something that we think will turn out very well for us in the long term,” McPike stated. In addition there are three freshman that have made varsity: Eve Sekscinski, Emily Thode and Mergner will be suiting up for the Buccaneers.
Another advantage of the squad size is the competition and camaraderie aspect involved. “We have had a lot of players fighting for playing time. When that happens it just doesn’t make one or two people better. It makes the whole team better,” McPike said. “That’s what you want in a team, you want the players pushing each other but at the same time pulling for each other.
While the youth movement may be in full force, McPike has seen real leadership from her upper classmen, in particular the seniors. “Last season we were a little uneven at times with regards to leadership. I couldn’t tell you one or two leaders that I expect to step up this year,” commented McPike. “The reason I can’t single anyone out is pretty simple, every senior has stepped up. So if they are a senior I can promise you they are a leader.” Juniors Summer Davis and Samantha Jacona have demonstrated leadership qualities as well. Sophomore Olivia Muir is a player to keep an eye out for as well.
In the net will be freshman Eve Sekscinski who has had a solid pre-season. “Eve has demonstrated that she is not only a solid goal keeper, she commands the defense as well. She makes sure the players are where they need to be and know what their job is,” said McPike.
Like football, field hockey will be moving up to D-I as well. In McPike’s eyes, she does not see it as much of a change for the squad. “We are playing the same teams we played last season, the level of competition in Southern Delaware is very high. It is going to be the same challenge it always is for us, we have to battle against very tough competition.”
Milford will open the season on September 5 with the game scheduled to start at 4 PM.
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