Lake Forest field hockey remains unbeaten with shutout over Milford

Hailey Moore of Lake Forest battles Erin Dunlap of Milford for possession.

FELTON – When she saw the ball rebound off her teammate’s stick, Sierra Jester couldn’t believe it.

The Lake Forest High sophomore took advantage of the opportunity in front of her, tapping the ball in the back of the cage for the second-half score.

Jester’s goal with just under nine minutes remaining in the game put the finishing touches on the Spartans’ 3-0 shutout of Milford High Thursday night on the James H. Blades Stadium turf.

Assisted by Malori Hughes on the play, it marked the first goal of Jester’s varsity field hockey career.

“I was so excited,” said Jester. “I saw my teammate, she tried to hit it, but it didn’t quite make it so it kind of rebounded off her stick. I said, ‘oh my God, I have to hit it.’ So, I just hit it right in.”

“It was very cool, she’s been working hard, so I was excited for Sierra to get her first goal tonight,” said coach Michele Tucker.

The win gives the Spartans (4-0) its third straight win over Milford, dating back to a 2-1 win on Sept. 28, 2017.

Seniors Elle Wood and Maycee Collison netted one goal each, while goalkeeper August Lewis registered a pair of saves to help the Spartans remain undefeated.

The Spartans earned the 11-3 penalty corner advantage and outshot the Bucs, 10-2.

Freshman goalkeeper Eve Sekscinski notched seven saves for the Bucs (2-2).

Lake Forest controlled the game early on, creating scoring opportunities in the first five minutes and putting Wood in position to put the first goal on the scoreboard at the 25:10 mark of the first half.

It was Wood’s fourth goal of the season, giving her one goal in each of the Spartans’ four wins this year.

Hoping to cushion the one-goal advantage, Collison took advantage of a corner attempt by driving the ball past the goalie just seconds after the halftime buzzer sounded to put the Spartans ahead, 2-0, at the break.

“I saw that the clock was running out, and I knew we had the corner, so I was just thinking how we had so many corners already that I just wanted to get the shot in,” said Collison. “We saw the opportunity, so I took the shot and it finally worked.”

“She was able to drive one in, and that’s what I tell them … play until the whistle,” said Tucker. “That was our second goal and it was an important goal. Going into a second half 1-0 is good, but there’s a lot of time left in the game.”

Milford’s offensive attack earned all three corners in the second half but was unable to capitalize and slip one past Lewis.

Jester provided her game-sealing goal at the 8:45 mark of the half to cap the night’s scoring.

The Spartans combined for 42 penalty corners in the team’s first three games but managed to score just six total goals in wins over Caravel Academy, Dover and Sussex Academy.

Two of Lake’s three goals against the Bucs came off corner opportunities.

Following the offensive corner struggles, including against a tough Milford back line, Tucker made a few adjustments by implementing three new corner strategies this week.

“We’ve been working on being in scoring position, because even though we’ve been successful, we’re still struggling a little bit with scoring,” she said.

“We’ve really been practicing them (corners) – I’ve created some new ones to kind of try out. What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working, so let’s try something else. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, we’re not any worse off than we were before.

Jester credited Milford’s back line and young goalkeeper for limiting the Spartan offensive attack the best they could inside the circle.

“They did well. They always had their sticks low, so that’s what hurt us a lot because when people have their sticks low it’s hard to hit it and have good passes,” she said.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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