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Field Hockey Counts on D to Hold the Line

The Milford High field hockey team has been relying on defense to stay in games as the offense struggles to find the back of the net consistently.
"It's been challenging, some of the scores have been rough but we are pretty much in every game with only a few exceptions," said head coach Emily Abbondanza-Luuri. "It's coming down to the wire most of the time, but there are stretches where we just can't put the ball in."
With the Scarlet Hawks offense struggling to find consistent offense, the 1-7-1 squad has relied heavily on the play of goalie Emily Smith. A varsity player since her sophomore year, Abbondanza-Luuri says Smith has improved dramatically this season.
"It was a rocky road for her last year, but this season she is coming out guns blazing," she said. "She had one game where she made 25 saves, it was insane. She is diving and getting to balls and you can see the progression, which is nice."
The head coach says that side of the field, in general, has been a strong suit for her squad. "The defense is holding a lot of teams to just one or two goals, including teams who generate a ton of shots on us," Abbondanza-Luuri said. "We have also gotten better with corners, that was an area of weakness last year but this season it has improved significantly."
Abbondanza-Luuri highlighted Kaitlyn DeCapua, Hannah Carney, Audrey Bushey, and Megan Jacques as players who have stood out defensively for the Scarlet Hawks.
"So many of these girls have stepped up to be starters," she said. "The entire defense has been really strong.
Offensively, Milford has been lead by a couple of players, including senior captain Nicole Focus.
"She has a handful of goals and ton of assists," Abbondanza-Luuri said. "She plays the midfield, but she loves playing forward too so I push her up whenever I can."
Jess Palmer, the head coach added, has also been an assist leader, setting up other players to finish around the goal. Shannon Comier, a sophomore who saw time at the varsity level in 2014, has also shown potential as a scoring threat.
"She has been fantastic," Abbondanza-Luuri said. "She is like a little Jess Palmer. I see the same athleticism in her. She is a three-sport athlete who has stepped in and done her job flawlessly."
Junior Christina Capone is another all-around athlete who has "done her job" for the Hawks, Abbondanza-Luuri said.
"Obviously, we want some more wins, but to be honest we need to break this losing mentality," she added. "That's our biggest challenge, it's not the ability or not playing together - these girls are talented - it's getting through the mental block we have to put the ball in the back of the net and win games."




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