New DE Turf complex a big winner for area hockey teams

FREDERICA — The Delaware Shore field hockey team is used to traveling up and down the East Coast for showcase tournaments.

But this weekend is different.

Delaware Shore Field Hockey is at a tournament in its home state.

It is just one of 84 teams participating in the inaugural tournament at the Delaware Turf Sports Complex this weekend. The showcase tournament, known as the Shooting Star Easter Tournament, began with pool play on Friday and continues today.

The new turf complex in Frederica fills a need for local field hockey clubs who typically had to travel to Richmond and throughout Pennsylvania for these types of big events.

Delaware Shore Lighthouse’s Emma Sekscinski brings the ball down field against Coyotes Sante Fe during U14 field hockey action on the first day at De Turf on Friday.

“It’s really nice to have a facility here basically in your backyard,” said Maci Long, part of Delaware Shore’s U-19 team.

“We’ve been waiting for a long time,” said Kristen Fuhr, also a member of the U-19 team.

Delaware Shore is represented in each age division — the U-14 bracket, the U-16 division and the U-19.

DeLaney Webb of the Lady Riders U14 battles against H2O during field hockey action on the first day at De Turf on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

The Lewes-based club is made up of players from Kent and Sussex counties. Long plays high school field hockey for Cape Henlopen High while Fuhr is on Smyrna High’s squad.

The U-16s and U-19s each had three games on Friday with two more scheduled today. The U-14s played a pair of games Friday and will play three today.

Delaware Shore Lighthouse’s Madeline Sekscinski defends against a Coyotes Sante Fe player during U14 field hockey action on the first day at De Turf on Friday.

Long and Fuhr estimated they attend about two field hockey tournaments a month during the spring and summer. But they’ve never been able to play in a Delaware-hosted event until Friday.

While Delaware Shore has a team in every bracket, there’s another local squad in attendance. Caesar Rodney High sent a team that is participating in just the U-14 division.

For some of those players, this is their first experience in a large-scale showcase event.

“I really, really liked it,” said 12-year-old Raegan Thomas. “I haven’t played on many fields like this.”

“This is really her first experience and it’s a pretty good place to start,” said her father Larry Thomas.

Like Delaware Shore, Caesar Rodney had no way of playing top competition from out of state during the offseason unless it traveled more than three hours to another tournament.

Delaware Shore Lighthouse goalie Julie Heffernan prepares to block a shot by a Coyotes Sante Fe player during U14 field hockey action on the first day at De Turf on Friday.

The young Riders encountered the hustle and bustle that these types of events bring, with games starting one after another as all 12 turf fields were in use at the same time. The tournament schedule went off without a hitch as all games started and ended on time.

DE Turf estimated visitors from 18 different states would be in attendance this weekend.

DeLaney Webb of the Lady Riders battles against a H2O player during U14 field hockey action on the first day at De Turf on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Thomas, who lives in Magnolia and attends Postlethwait Middle School, said there was a lot of field hockey knowledge she could take away from being exposed to other players from around the country that she wouldn’t normally see.

“You can learn how other people play and see different techniques,” Thomas said.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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