4-0 Polytech field hockey team blends youth, senior leadership

Lacy Bayley (right)

WOODSIDE — The seniors on Polytech High’s field hockey squad weren’t sure how this was all going to work out.

After all, there were only three of them on this year’s roster.

And with a total of nine sophomores and freshmen, that left the Panthers looking like a pretty inexperienced team.

“We were all really nervous,” said senior forward Lacy Bayley. “But the chemistry with the young kids is really good. We’ll all grow together.

MacKenzie Estrada (12)

“They all want to try, like 100 percent all the time. They want to get better.”

The results speak for themselves.

Polytech takes a 4-0 record — both in the Henlopen Conference and overall — into today’s 4 p.m. home matchup with Laurel.

That’s the program’s best start since 2015, when the Panthers started out 5-0 en route to a 13-3 campaign.

Coach Lynn Richardson said she had a good feeling about her young players once they started playing some preseason scrimmages.

Lynn Richardson

“There were a lot of unknowns,” she said. “But the young kids have stepped up. Some of them had gotten varsity experience prior to this year. But now they’re being asked to play more of a leadership type of role.

“In our playdays, all the young kids adapted really well with everything that we were doing. It seemed like a really positive, cohesive group of kids. They’re working well together. Early on, it was kind of neat.”

It doesn’t hurt that the three seniors are spread throughout the field.

Bayley is on offense, Mackenzie Estrada is a midfielder and Holly Rembold is in goal. Estrada was a first-team all-Henlopen North selection last year while Bayley made second-team all-North.

“It is strange,” Estrada said about having just three seniors. “But we’re all really close so we all work well together.

“In the summer league, there were only a couple freshmen that came out and were working together on the field. So I was like, ‘Maybe this will actually work.’ Then a couple days into preseason, when we finally split up, I realized, ‘OK, we’re actually going to be pretty good this year.’”

Polytech had made the DIAA state tournament eight seasons in a row. The Panthers would like to keep that tradition going.

On Thursday, though, Polytech will find out where it stands against the best team in the state when it hosts Delmar at 4 p.m. The Wildcats are not only the two-time defending state champions but they’re ranked ninth in the country.

Delmar (5-0), which owns a 30-game winning streak, has outscored its first five opponents by a margin of 22-0.

Since Delmar is now in Division II, the Panthers won’t have to worry about seeing the Wildcats again in the state tournament. Still, Polytech wants to guage where it stands right now.

“We know they’re a really good team and they’re going to come out strong,” said Bayley. “Our main goal with them is just to keep up — limit how much they’re scoring on us and, if we get any shots, make them count.”

Estrada plays travel ball with many of Delmar’s players on the Shorebirds.

“They’re very good,” she said about the Wildcats. “They’re good competition just to get us better for other teams we play.

“We all just work really well together,” Estrada said about the Panthers. “We have good chemistry this year.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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