In her first season as a field player, MHS junior Lauren Boyle was named Second Team All-Henlopen Conference in girls' soccer. Senior Bethany Stapleford was also named Second Team All-Conference, while senior Julie Ramirez received Honorable Mention.
Lauren Boyle thought she was going to get out of the goal during last year’s girls’ soccer season.
But an injury to Kat Sufit in the first game of the season forced the then-sophomore back into the same position she had manned for most of her freshman season.
This year, Boyle was able to become a field player.
And the junior responded, earning Second Team All-Henlopen Conference honors while playing both offense and defense.
“I liked it a lot better than goalie,” Boyle said. “I felt I could contribute more.”
Milford head coach Ed Evans said Boyle’s move from goalkeeper to field player was relatively smooth.
“At the beginning of the season we were trying to find a place up front for her,” Evans said. “I think she had difficulty up front. When we put her in the back (on defense) it was a natural fit for her.”
That natural fit came from Boyle’s ability to disrupt the opposing team’s offensive players by knocking the ball away or knocking them off the ball.
“I’m really aggressive,” Boyle said. “I don’t back down and that probably showed (to opposing coaches).”
“She’s physical and she likes to mix it up,” Evans said. “And she kind of fell into a leadership role.”
Boyle became one of the team’s captains alongside seniors Bethany Stapleford and Julie Ramirez.
“I just tried to be a leader with Beth and Julie because we were the captains, and I tried to encourage the other girls not to give up,” Boyle said.
Still, being named an All-Conference soccer player was far from her mind throughout the season. Especially since, not only was this her first season in the field, but it was only her fourth year ever playing soccer.
“It’s surprising,” Boyle said. “But I’ve worked hard and done what I can to get better.”
Her role as captain should continue into next season when she is a senior. Boyle will likely find herself as the anchor of the team’s defense next season, and will be in charge of the team’s off-season work.
“We’re just going to try to build our team as a whole, promote team unity and get the girls involved in pickup games and camps,” Boyle said.
And she’s hoping next year’s team can better this year’s record of 2-14.
“Our record didn’t really reflect how we played,” said Boyle, who added that they lost some players before the season, during pre-season and during the regular season.
“Even though we went through all of that, even up to the last game, we played our hardest and never gave up.”
Stapleford and Ramirez also received All-Conference honors. Stapleford was named Second Team All-Henlopen Conference, while Ramirez received Honorable Mention.
“Beth is a smart player,” Evans said. “She plays well to her strengths and she’s aggressive as well, her competitive side definitely comes out.”
“Julie was a solid left back for us,” Evans said. “She has a nice left foot and she was able to create some of the attacks for us.”
As Evans looks toward next season, he isn’t writing off this season as a failure, despite the record.
“We got some valuable experience,” Evans said. “We only graduate three seniors, so there’s not going to be too much turnover.
“We were young and at the end we were playing some really good teams really well.”