Milford suffers first loss of season, falls to unbeaten Delmar

MILFORD – In the first nine games of the season, Milford’s varsity field hockey squad was a dominant force. The Buccaneers went into Tuesday sporting a perfect 9-0 record, having surrendered just four goals all season.

Tuesday evening in Milford, head coach Andrea Fleming’s Buccaneers played host to a team with just as impressive of a 2016 campaign: the undefeated Delmar Wildcats.

With a 4-1 victory over the Buccaneers, Delmar improved to 11-0 with seven of those wins coming in shutout fashion. Over the last six seasons, the Wildcats are 90-11-2. Nine of those 11 losses came against an equally tough Cape Henlopen squad, and one of the two ties was against the Buccaneers in 2014.

Delmar freshman Logan Walls scored two quick goals for the Wildcats at the 26:06 and 22:53 mark of the first half, giving the Wildcats all they would need to pull off the victory. But later in the half junior Peyton Kemp scored a pair of goals of her own, at the 18:15 and 5:33 mark.

“We definitely came out flat and panicky,” coach Fleming said of her team’s first half performance. “We didn’t play with composure or confidence in ourselves, especially in the first half.”

Going into the break in a 4-0 hole can be tough to climb back out of, but Milford managed to shut the Wildcats offense out in the second half of play. Milford senior Kate Melvin put the Buccaneers on the board and avoided the shutout with a goal at the 9:21 mark in the second half, but it was too little too late.

“We just talked about how we needed to play the game they know how to play,” Coach Fleming said about her halftime talk. “They needed to use the skills that we’ve been working hard on since the end of last season.”

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Milford’s Rajene Bowe hits past Delmar’s Desiree Grandados (Special to The Chronicle/Marc Cleary).

Coach Fleming told her players they could choose to either give up now, at halftime, or they could go back out there and play hard until the end of the game.

The players chose the latter.

While Delmar held on to the victory, the Buccaneers’ defense played well enough in the second half to keep the game from turning into another one of those 10-goal games the Wildcats have been putting up this season.

In 11 games this season, Delmar has out-scored opponents 73-4 and have recorded three games with 10 or more goals.

Milford goalkeeper Leah Barnett made 10 saves, with the Wildcats taking 16 shots on goal.

Head coach Jodi Hollamon and her Delmar squad will finish out the season with a road trip to Cape Henlopen Oct. 22 and a three-game home stand against Seaford, Sussex Tech and Smyrna.

The loss for Milford (9-1) on Senior Night sends Coach Fleming’s Bucs into a five-game road trip, finishing the season off with road games at Sussex Central, Laurel, Cape Henlopen, Indian River and St. Thomas More.

The Buccaneers plan on putting this game in the rearview mirror as they head into the final five-game span, especially with a team such as Cape still on the remaining schedule. Following the game, Coach Fleming spoke with her team extensively regarding the performance and how they plan on moving forward.

“We talked about how once they left this game, it was over and done with. We are moving on, this is not the end of the season and does not prevent us from reaching our ultimate goal. This is just a bump in the road and we have to see how they’re going to react to it,” Coach Fleming said.

“Normally out of failure comes greatness,” she said.

Sports editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com

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