Wildcats eye fourth straight field hockey state title

Coach Jodi Hollamon talks to her players during halftime of Delmar’s game at Cape Henlopen last season. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

DELMAR — It’s just business as usual.

When one senior class of All-State field hockey talent graduates from Delmar High, another typically takes its place on the field the following season.

Following last year’s second consecutive undefeated regular season, the Wildcats registered three straight DIAA Division II playoff shutouts, including a 5-0 state title victory over Caravel Academy at University of Delaware’s Rullo Stadium on Nov. 16.

It marked the program’s third consecutive state championship and the eighth overall appearance, dating back to 2002.

“One of the big statements that we said this year is that we have a target on our back,” explained coach Jodi Hollamon. “Of course, everyone wants to play Delmar — and beat Delmar — so we have to live up to that every single game that we play.

“We can’t go into a game thinking, ‘we got this.’ So, knowing we have that target on our back makes us work harder.”

Delmar’s last loss, regular or postseason, was a 1-0 defeat to Cape Henlopen High on Oct. 22, 2016.

Morgan Bradford dribbles down field during last year’s win over Sussex Tech.

“I will say, they are still pretty humble,” said Hollamon. “With the mix of players, the young ones want it so bad and the older ones want it for the younger ones, so I think because of that mix of players that we have, it keeps them fresh and it keeps them wanting to win.

“As long as they continue to want to win, we have the talent to do it. It’s just a matter of whether we can put it all together.”

After losing a class of seven seniors — many of whom are now playing at the collegiate level — the Wildcats will look to make it four straight titles, led by another class of seven seniors.

The Wildcats will open the regular season against South River High, Maryland, at DE Turf Sports Complex in Frederica on Sept. 6. The girls will then follow it up with a showdown against Notre Dame Prep, Maryland, at DE Turf the following day.

Senior captains Mya Kemp and Morgan Fletcher are joined by fellow seniors Ashlyn Cave, Logan Walls, Natalie O’Leary, Taryn Houlihan and Gladis VanGessel.

“It’s definitely a different team,” said Hollamon. “They’re quieter — I don’t have some of the big vocal leaders that I have had in the past – so I’m hoping someone will fill in that role.”

“We’re just focusing on Delmar field hockey,” said Kemp. “We’ve been focusing on Delmar field hockey for the past three years now and it’s done us good not worrying about other teams, other players, but worrying about Delmar hockey and preparing the younger ones for the expectations we have and being role models to them.”

Juniors Morgan Bradford and Olivia Twilley join Kemp and Fletcher as captains.

Payton Lynch, Madison Moore and Logan Dean make up the remainder of the junior class for the Wildcats.

“Those two players (Bradford and Twilley), I see them really helping a lot in the midfield, or anywhere they can,” said Hollamon. “We have a really good mix this year. We have a couple of seniors – probably three seniors who are going to be starters – some juniors, some sophomores and a couple freshmen. We’ll have starters in every grade.”

Moore started as a ninth grader two years ago but didn’t play last year because of a hip injury. Now that she’s back from her injury and surgery, Hollamon is excited to have her back this season.

Goalkeeper Kelly Davis returns for her sophomore season as the starting goalkeeper. Midfielder Ella Shockley joins her as the only other sophomore on the roster.

Josie Hollamon settles the ball during last year’s regular season finale against Sussex Tech.

This marks Davis’ third year on the varsity roster and, due to not seeing a whole lot of shots in her general direction, has managed to fly under the radar.

“She doesn’t get the credit she deserves because last year and the year before she didn’t have that many shots,” Hollamon said. “That’s a great problem to have, but she is an outstanding goalkeeper – she’s a Division I goalkeeper. So, we’re very comfortable with her back there.”

Not only has Davis played great in goal, but the back line has done such as nice job that the Wildcats allowed just one goal all season last year.

Josie Hollamon, Maci Bradford, Lilly Waters, Laura Rogers and Summer Payne make up the five freshmen on this year’s varsity roster.
Bradford and Hollamon were key pieces in the Wildcats’ lineup as eighth graders last season, which includes two Bradford goals in the Wildcats’ 5-0 title shutout.

This year, Hollamon brought up five eighth graders, but all five will be playing junior varsity to begin the season.

“Obviously everyone knows we have a target on our back, everyone wants to beat us, but if we continue to set higher expectations for ourselves and continue playing Delmar field hockey and working hard, then we’ll get the outcome we want,” said Fletcher.

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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