for Conference Lead
Friday in Showdown
Make Your Pick
Note: The Cape Henlopen at Milford field hockey game has been rescheduled from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Friday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m. Sussex County Online will provide coverage of the game on Saturday, Oct. 20.
One team has been in this position many times before, the other rarely.
For the first time in recent history, the Henlopen Conference field hockey championship will not come down to Delmar or Cape Henlopen.
Instead, with a 3-2 win over Delmar on Wednesday, Oct. 17, Milford has supplanted Delmar as the challenger to Cape Henlopen for the conference crown.
And while both teams still have several games remaining, the conference title could well come down to the outcome of Cape's game at Milford on Friday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m.
Milford, at 9-0 in the conference and 10-0 overall, has never won the conference championship even though it won the Henlopen South title and the state championship in 1996. That year, Cape was conference champion.
Cape, at 9-1 in the conference and 11-1 overall, always seems to be in contention for the conference title with 9 titles it has either won outright or shared in the program's history. It shared the title last season with Delmar, which had won the three previous titles.
With Cape's loss to Smyrna on Oct. 11, the Bucs took the upper hand in the conference race. A win against Cape would all but seal the title for Milford, which would have a two-game lead in the loss column over Cape with three games remaining against Seaford, Sussex Central and Caesar Rodney.
A win by Cape would give the Vikings a half-game lead and an edge in a tiebreaker if the two teams ended up tied. Cape still has games with Sussex Central and Dover after Milford.
As for Friday's game, the Bucs have made a habit of surprising people this year. After not making the state tournament last year, head coach Bonnie Simon is somewhat surprised that her team is in this position. The win over Delmar was also her first in three years at the helm.
"I was surprised we were even ranked to start the season," said Simon. "We didn't prove ourselves last year at all. We're playing well this year, but I've told the kids every day that the rankings don't mean anything. We've got to play every game. I tell them not to look at the rankings."
That doesn't mean the Bucs don't recognize the gravity of Friday's game against Cape.
"I want the girls to look at it as just another game," said Simon. "But this is big. You can look at it a few different ways. You can look at us as the underdog, and I like being in that position. I just tell the girls to focus on the goals we've set and playing a good game."
The Bucs had good preparation for the Cape game with the win over Delmar. They trailed 2-1 in the second half of that game before rallying for the winning goals.
"The kids are very poised," said Simon. "I have a group of five seniors and they are very calm. They don't lose their composure. It seems like when we get a goal scored against us, they just dig deep and rise to the occasion."
The Bucs are led offensively by Andrea Fleming, Carrie Greer and Diane Green. Fleming has scored 13 goals, Greer has scored 4 of her 7 goals in the last two games, and Green has scored five goals this season.
The Bucs are led defensively by links Katie Washington and Kelly Simon -- Coach Simon's daughter -- and sophomore Stacey Billings.
Cape has been sparked by hot scorers this season. Lauren Mazzotta and Maren Ford have been the hottest scorers recently. Mazzottaa has scored three goals in the last two games while Ford has scored a goal in six of the Vikings' last seven games including two goals in a win over Sussex Tech and three in a win over Polytech.
Casey Cahill and Lindsey Williams have also had hot streaks during the season. Cahill has posted three two-goal games and Williams has scored two goals in two other games.
"We have to take the ball offensively and get into our circle and force some corners," said Simon of the key for the Bucs against Cape. "From what I've heard from other coaches, their front two lines are really tough and that where our strength is, too.
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