Lake Forest field hockey team aims to build on 2017 success

Lake Forest’s Grace Aguilar stops the ball against Polytech during last Saturday’s field hockey Play Day at DE Turf. Aguilar was a second-team All-Henlopen Southern Division selection last season. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

FELTON — A season ago, the Lake Forest High field hockey team made it all the way to the DIAA Division II state semifinals.

The Spartans finished with a record 13-4-1, with two of their three losses coming to eventual Division II state champion Delmar.

Seeded fifth, Lake Forest — which also fell to Division I state champ Cape Henlopen during the regular season — was ousted by Delmar, 4-0, in the state Final Four.

With a lot of talent returning for the 2018 season, the Spartans hope to take the next step and make it to the finals this year.

“We are certainly trying to carry that success over to this year,” Lake Forest coach Michele Tucker said during Lake’s scrimmage play day at Cape Henlopen. “However, I told them that, like Cinderella, the clock strikes midnight and the ball is over.

“It’s a new day and we have to start over. We can’t think, ‘Oh, we did this last year we’re guaranteed to do it this year.’ The more success you have as a program, the more of a target you become.”

After graduating five seniors from last year’s squad, Tucker has a senior class made up of seven players this year: Grace Aguilar, Bailey Dean, Kylie Greek, Julianna Tyndall, Leslie Webb, Alexis Wright and Riley Wood.

Of the 34 players listed on Lake’s tentative JV/varsity roster, 19 of them are upperclassmen (12 juniors, seven seniors). The roster lists six freshmen and nine sophomores.

“Bailey Dean, Julianna Tyndall and Grace Aguilar are all three-year varsity players for me,” said Tucker. “They’ve done a great job teaching the younger girls what they need to do.

Bailey Dean (right) is one of a handful of Lake Forest three-year varsity players on this year’s squad. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“I was very fortunate in that I only graduated five girls last year, so I have a pretty solid senior class and a pretty decent-sized junior class as well.”

Aguilar and Tyndall were both second-team All-Henlopen Southern Division selections last season.

“We’ve played together for a long time, so I think we have made a really good bond over the years,” Aguilar said. “So far, the whole team has worked very well together, even with our JV players — we’ve all practiced together and have cheered each other on.”

“So far, so good,” Tucker said of preseason practices. “So far everyone’s been very upbeat, very positive. We have a lot of team leaders on the field this year who are taking initiative to be positive role models and be on-field teachers.”

“We love encouraging the younger kids,” said Tyndall. “We don’t want to make it just about the upperclassmen and the varsity team, we’re trying to make sure everyone’s always together and I think that has really helped the last year or two.”

Lake Forest is taking part in a seven-team scrimmage play day on Thursday afternoon at Dover High. The Spartans then open the regular season on Sept. 11 at Laurel.

Offensively, Aguilar will lead the way up front for Lake this season.

“We have Grace entering her senior year on the front line for us,” Tucker said. “We did lose Katie Stahre to graduation. However, Maycee Collison has put in a lot of work in the off-season and is stepping up. She made an impact last year and is looking to make even more of an impact this year.

“We still have Elle Wood, we have Tyndall, Hailey Moore is filling in a spot,” she continued. “Moore played a little bit last year but then due to a hip injury kind of had to step aside a little bit. We’re hoping she’s good to go this year.”

Senior Alexis Wright and junior Eryn Gach will be key players along the back line for Lake heading into the year.

“I have Alexis and Eryn in the back defensively,” Tucker said. “I did graduate two seniors — Caroline Schiff and Haley Werner — who played defense for me last year. But I definitely know Alexis and Eryn will fill the spots, but that third one we’re still trying to figure out who’s clicking.”

The battle for the starting goalkeeper job is coming down to a pair of juniors in August Warren and Mikayla Smith.

“It’s an open competition, nothing is set in stone,” said Tucker.

The Spartans are trying to make the state tourney for the third straight year. The team goal is simple, according to Tucker.

“We went to the semifinals last year, we would like to make the finals this year,” she said.

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