Senators hope hard work yields hockey playoff return

The Dover field hockey team returns several All-Henlopen Conference players, including junior Kristen Adkins, the Senators’ leading returning scorer. (Delaware State News file photo)

The Dover field hockey team returns several All-Henlopen Conference players, including junior Kristen Adkins, the Senators’ leading returning scorer. (Delaware State News file photo)

DOVER — Denise Kimbro typically creates a motto for her field hockey team each year.

This year’s slogan by the Dover High coach that will be plastered on the Senators’ shirts has to do with effort.

“We’re going to have to work harder than other teams,” Kimbro said. “That’s why our slogan is ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.’”

The hope is that work ethic leads to a return to the playoffs for the third season in a row.

Dover has to replace only two starters from a team that went 9-5-1 in the regular season last year. The Senators were the 14th-seed in the state tournament and lost to Delmar in a 3-2 overtime game in the first round.

The Senators return several All-Henlopen Conference players, including junior Kristen Adkins, senior goalie Brooklyn Peete, junior Mira Prisco and senior Rachel Mills. Adkins is Dover’s leading returning scorer.

The key starter Dover is trying to replace is Tessa Tierson and her goal production.

“We’re missing that spark,” Kimbro said. “We’re trying some things to replace that.”

While Tierson’s former spot is a question mark headed into the season, Dover knows what to expect out of its defense this year.

The defense is anchored by Peete, who made 10 saves to help send Dover’s playoff game vs. Delmar to overtime, and had 22 in the season finale against Mount Pleasant to help clinch a spot in the postseason with a 2-1 victory despite getting out-shot 23-6.

“She’s our rock,” Kimbro said about Peete.

“We have a strong back and that’s really exciting,” Peete said. “We’ve all grown up together and have years of experience. I think as long as we stay mentally strong we should be fine.”

This is a Senator program that has improved in recent years. The playoff berth in 2013 was Dover’s first since 2008 and this current group of seniors has won 26 games over the past three years and has never finished below .500

“I think over the past few years we just keep getting faster,” Peete said. “Not just the seniors but the young players are coming up and I’m really excited for them. Speed kills. I think our stick skills are getting better too.”

The Senators will be one of nine Henlopen Conference teams that will take part in a “Play Day” at Polytech on Saturday, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. Seaford, Caesar Rodney, Indian River, Sussex Central. Lake Forest, Sussex Tech, Polytech and Woodbridge are the other Henlopen teams scheduled.

Dover will host its own “Play Day” next Thursday (3:30-10 p.m.) Smyrna, Middletown, Wilmington Charter, Queen Annes (Md.) and Kent County (Md.) will also be in attendance.

The Senators start the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 15 at home against Lake Forest at 7 p.m.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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