Over the past few seasons the Milford Bucs boys’ lacrosse team has struggled to find success. After posting 4, 5, and 6 win seasons over the last three years, the Bucs have begun to turn things around winning six games already this season.
A large part of that success is due to strong goaltending from sophomore Clay Stevenson who has had another solid year in his second varsity season between the pipes for Milford.
Stevenson’s career in goal started as an 11-year-old playing in the Milford Youth Lacrosse Association. And as is commonly the case with sports that require a goaltender, a team needs someone willing to take the punishment associated with the position, and Clay was their man.
Stevenson made his way through the lower levels developing a passion for the position and eventually finding himself on the field his freshmen year at Milford. Now just over half-way through his sophomore season, like the team, Stevenson’s game has grown.
“From my viewpoint I’ve learned a lot about the game and how it works so a lot of what I do now makes more sense to me,” said Stevenson. “The experience on varsity last year helped me immensely. It gave me a lot of experience against some of the best shooters in Delaware and has raised my level of play.”
So far, the Bucs are sporting a 6-2 record good enough for second in the Henlopen Conference behind perennial powerhouse Caesar Rodney (7-1). A lot of the credit for the teams turnaround goes to Head Coach Joe Vavala and his coaching staff who have slowly but surely steered the program in the right direction.
“The difference has been that we just understand the game better and we’ve meshed better as a team this year,” said Stevenson. “Also, we have a lot of player on the team who have played together since youth league, and we click well since we know one another’s strengths.”
“Coach Vavala and Coach Lopez have had a huge impact on the team since coming here,” Stevenson continued. “They both have great lacrosse knowledge and are great coaches. They also have the ability to get the best out of us no matter what.”
Right now, the Bucs are playing with the confidence of a team destined to make it to the postseason. And with six games remaining, they’ve put themselves in a great position to do so. Currently, the Bucs have won four of their last five games including wins over Indian River, Sussex Central, Newark, and St. Elizabeth.
“I absolutely believe that we have the ability to make it to the playoffs,” said Stevenson. “If we play our game, we can compete with anyone in the state.”
While confidence is one of the keys to winning, Stevenson knows the road ahead will be a challenge for he and his Bucs teammates.
“We really need to bring our A-game,” Stevenson said. “We have a tough end of the year schedule and to be able to make the playoffs we can’t let any of these upcoming games slip away from us.”