By Kevin Eickman
Milford field hockey has a young team, but a talented group of individuals that coach Andrea McPike believes is the foundation for a Buccaneer program looking to take its game to the next level. This past week wasn’t an easy one for Milford, but on Saturday MHS was able to recover from a pair of mid-week losses. The first was a tough 2-1 setback against a highly regarded Caesar Rodney team, the second was a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Polytech, making this past Saturday’s game against the visiting Sussex Tech Ravens all the more critical. “We knew going into the season we would have a bit of a roller coaster ride and that was the case this week. Losing two games was not something we wanted to have happened, but we had to learn from them,” McPike said.
At the top of McPike’s plan for the team, this season was to develop consistency. On Saturday, they added another trait to that plan with “resiliency” the operative word. Milford had many reasons to put its heads down during the game, but each time a challenge arose, the Bucs had an answer for it. “The girls played with so much heart today, every time they were asked a question, they had an answer for it,” McPike said. In a game that Tech had a 10-3 advantage in corners, Milford would not give in.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Milford turned up the pressure on Tech, spending huge chunks of time in the Ravens’ zone, but it simply could not find the back of the net. As the teams entered the second quarter scoreless, the Buccaneers’ persistence finally paid off as freshman Erin Dunlap would open the scoring on a pass from sophomore Olivia Muir at the 7:22 mark of the second quarter, it would be a lead that Milford would take into halftime.
In the third quarter, Milford appeared to fade a bit and Tech would take advantage of it with 3:46 remaining in the stanza. The teams would enter the fourth quarter all square at one goal each, setting the table for an exciting final 15 minutes.
The Buccaneers would regain the lead as Dunlap would score just 24 seconds into play. The goal looked to give Milford the upper hand, but Tech had other ideas. Ravens senior Kayla Evans would level the score with 8:31 remaining in the game. “When we gave up that second goal, I could see it in the girls’ eyes, they were angry, they dug down deep and answered the call when they needed to,” McPike said.
It would not take long for Milford to respond as senior Samantha Jacona would tally the game-winner just two minutes later. It was a big goal for Milford and gave it the lead for good. It would not be easy for the Buccaneers as the Ravens turned up the heat. Each time they did, however, the Milford defense had an answer. One player who stood out was Karena Sollie, who broke up several Tech fast-break attempts, as well as providing solid leadership in the circle. “I live to break up plays, some players live for goals, I live to stop them. There is no greater satisfaction for me than breaking up plays to help get us the win,” Sollie said.
There is no break for Milford as they will head down to Cape Henlopen this Tuesday to face off against one of the perennial powers in Delaware “It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but we just have to be ready for it. We are 6-2-1 now, so every game is important. We just want to make sure we play the best we can.” McPike said.