It was just a normal day of summer league field hockey.
A rainy Wednesday washed away the afternoon matchups, but games continued in the cool evening.
Locked in defensive battled, Ike Eisenhour officiated the two teams.
The humidity had lightened, which the Delaware Shore Field Hockey Executive Director was thankful for because Friday, July 24, the U14 team will be playing in the Disney Showcase in Orlando, Florida.
The biggest challenge — aside from the opponents they’ll face in Florida — is managing the heat, Eisenhour said.
“We’ve probably been at Disney for four out of the past six years,” he said. “This team, they play a modified field, it’s 7 on 7 and a shorter field. We take nine field players and two goalkeepers for the event.”
Planned substitutions are key, and Delaware Shore wants to make it into the tournament’s final day.
The competition is tough, giving the group of girls a high-quality challenge as the summer season wraps up and fall practice begins.
In the past, the squad has been able to make it into the final day, but it’s no guarantee.
“All it takes is one goal differential because when you leave here, you’re going into a big ocean with a lot of people who have talent,” Eisenhour said. “We may look good here in this little pond, but then you got to get used to playing with the big guys.”
While Eisenhour focused more on the completion, the Davis family takes advantage of the four days in Florida, adding four more for a vacation this year, said Carri Davis of Lewes. It will be the second trip for her daughter, Autumn, a goalkeeper.
Disney gives a good discount on tickets for those who stay to play, and it’s well worth the trip between the vacation time and play experience.
Especially for Autumn Davis, who will look to play for Cape Henlopen High School when she graduates from Beacon Middle School.
“They actually play against some really good competition,” Carri Davis said. “The stick skills for the girls there in Florida are amazing. … Just what they see in Florida and the competition they get is so worth it.”
The other players will have time to experience the Disney parks, but Eisenhour doesn’t do that anymore.
“I don’t do parks anymore,” he said, holding back a smile. “I’ll find a place and get in the pool.”
Oddly enough, the U14 team’s trip to Disney came about by force.
Delaware Shore Field Hockey has sent a U19 squad to Disney as well, in February, but as the showcase became more popular, registration ended within a minute of opening.
But there was another way.
If the team had registered for the U14 tournament in July, Disney granted those teams registration a week in advance.
“We were kind of forced to do that, but it’s been a good thing for our younger kids, too, because they get to play at a much higher level than some of the middle school games they have,” Eisenhour said.
Then again, being forced to travel to Florida doesn’t sound too bad. High-quality playing experience? Check. Summer vacation? Check. Florida sun? Check.
“It’s well worth it,” Davis said.
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