Lake Forest field hockey hopes to take next steps in postseason

Maycee Collison.

FELTON – After semifinal losses in each of the last two seasons, the Lake Forest High field hockey squad is itching to take the next step in the DIAA postseason.

The consecutive Division II semifinal losses were both 4-0 shutouts to eventual state champion Delmar High.

“It’s a new season,” said Lake Forest coach Michele Tucker. “Obviously, for the girls who have made two semifinal appearances, they want to experience the finals.

“We want the next level. They’re like, ‘OK, we’ve done this twice now.’”

Last year’s squad went 11-3-1 before earning the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the Division II tournament bracket. Following the bye, Lake shut out Ursuline Academy, 3-0, in the quarterfinals to setup the rematch with Delmar at University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium.

All three regular season losses and the tie came against playoff teams – Delmar, Cape Henlopen High, Polytech High and Sussex Tech High.

After a long drought without a playoff berth, the Spartans have now earned three consecutive appearances, but each time were bounced from the tournament by the Wildcats.

“We’ve definitely been working a lot harder and have been putting the work in over the offseason to try to get that semifinal win and get to the finals,” said senior Hailey Moore.

This year’s Spartans have one more scrimmage play day at Dover High today before opening its regular season at Caravel Academy, last year’s Div. II runner-up, next Wednesday night at 7:15 p.m.

Last year’s group of seniors – led by First Team All-State selection Grace Aguilar and Second Team All-Stater Julianna Tyndall – left a few voids to fill, but the group of seven is now being replaced by this year’s veteran group of 12 seniors.

Many of the seniors have already taken on the role of leading and teaching new drills in practice throughout the preseason.

“We really try to do a lot of team bonding,” said senior Maycee Collison. “We try to do everything as a team, incorporate everyone in the drills and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. They’ve picked things up pretty quickly and we all just run smoothly together.”

The senior group has starters across all positions. Elle Wood leads the way offensively, with Moore and Collison anchoring the midfield position.

Eryn Gach and Bethany Lawson will be the veteran presence along the back line for the Spartans.

Goalkeeper August Lewis returns for her senior season, while fellow senior Mikayla Smith backs her up in goal.

“I have August in goal again,” said Tucker. “I’m very confident in her, but I’m also very confident in Mikayla. It’s two very different styles.”

The rest of the senior class consists of Kaley Aldrich, Maci Carter, Cassie Dempsey, Rachel Taylor and Ruby Troutman.

Jessica Tyndall, Rebecca Moxley, Malori Hughes and Cassidy Mason make up the Spartans’ junior class. Four more juniors have been listed on the junior varsity roster.

Sophomores Haydan Parker, Sierra Jester and Emma Moore round out Lake’s roster of 19.

Tyndall will be alongside Wood offensively for the Spartans, with the third attack spot still up in the air for Tucker.

“I’m still playing around with who’s going to fill those shoes, because I had Gracie (Aguilar) for such a long time, so that’s up in the air.”

The senior Carter is one name who has put in the hard work over the preseason and has shown improvements, giving her a shot at seeing some playing time at midfield with Moore and Collison. Parker and Jester will join the mix as sophomores.

“In that second line, I have Hailey Moore, who’s been phenomenal through preseason for me. She’s lit a fire in herself, but she’s lit a fire in others,” said Tucker. “Maycee is back again this year, another really strong midfield player. Then I have Haydan Parker and Sierra Jester, two sophomores.”

Moxley is taking over the now-graduated Alexis Wright’s position on the back line.

“Everyone, from the seniors to the freshmen, is very talented and I think we’re going to be a really good team this year,” said Wood. “All the teams we’ve had in the past few years have been good, but I feel like this year we have a lot of skill coming up and all the girls have put in a lot of time and work to get to this point.”

“Our team goal is definitely to make it back to the semifinals and then to make it even further, and hopefully beat Delmar this year,” said Moore.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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