Parks, IR field hockey making push for state tournament

MILFORD – Indian River field hockey suffered a heart-breaking loss to Milford last Thursday, allowing a last-minute goal to fall 2-1 to the Lady Bucs.

The loss came just two days after tying a talented Lake Forest squad in a 0-0 deadlock.

At 5-3-3 with four regular season games left to play, the Lady Indians find themselves in great position to make a second consecutive DIAA state tournament appearance at season’s end.

Senior goalkeeper Mya Parks has been a vital part of the team’s success.

“She’s really doing just a fantastic job for us,” said IR head coach Jodi Stone following the team’s 0-0 tie Oct. 17. “She’s continuing to improve each game and is able to make some unthinkable stops and has been like a solid brick wall for us this year.”

Jessica Rybicki (22) celebrates with her teammates following her goal against Milford last week (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Parks made six saves in the tie against Lake and eight saves in the one-goal loss to Milford.

“This was a game where I knew it was going to be back-and-forth and it was nice to know that I had such a nice defense in front of me,” Parks said following the Lake Forest game.

The 0-0 tie with Lake marked the squad’s third tie of the season, with the other two coming against Woodbridge in the first game of the season (0-0) and Dover in the third game of the season (2-2).

“We’re closing the deficit,” coach Stone said of the amount of overtime IR has played this season. “Those would have been losses in the past, so just closing that deficit has been good and a tie is better than a loss. It’s not ideal – obviously the ultimate goal is a win – but considering the fact we lost four really strong players last year and we’re replacing them with first-year players, the girls have really come together and done a fantastic job.”

The Bucs put up 10 shots and earned 13 penalty corners against Indian River Thursday, Oct. 19, yet Parks only let up two goals in the loss.

The team’s other two losses came against two of the best teams in the state: undefeated Delmar and two-loss Cape Henlopen.

In the 8-0 loss to Delmar Thursday, Oct. 5, the Wildcats put up 20 shots against IR’s defense.

Five days later IR suffered a 5-0 shutout to Cape.

Kaylee Hall chases down a ball during IR’s tie against Lake Forest last Tuesday, Oct. 17 (Sussex Post/Ben Heck).

Parks combined for 25 saves against the two squads.

“We have a solid defense, most of our players are all returning. They just work really well together as a unit,” said coach Stone. “The security feeling that Mya’s back there to back everybody up just puts everyone else at ease, so we’re able to push up the field a little bit more. More so than we have in the past.”

With four games remaining on the regular season schedule, IR hopes to stay focused on the end goal.

“We’re right there. We just want to maintain our momentum and continue to build on the skills that we already have,” said coach Stone. “We have a goal in mind, and we’re just going to continue to move along that path to obtain that goal.”

“We just want to win them,” Parks said of her team’s focus over the next four games. “We just want to play with the same energy that we’ve been playing with all season. No one’s giving up and I think that if we keep playing like that we’ll make it.”

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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