FREDERICA — Elle Davis was still just a high school kid when she started practicing with the Ospreys last year.
So going up against soccer players who had already been through a college season or two was a little scary at first.
“Coming to these first practices was definitely intimidating,” said the recent Caesar Rodney High grad. “I was like, ‘This is a much higher level than anything I’ve ever seen.’ I had never been on a team like this and had this experience — to be able to play with these girls.”
But Davis stuck it out last year and came back for more this summer.
Like the rest of the CAFC Ospreys, she’s a local standout who wants to make herself better for the college season coming up in the fall.
Now in their fourth season, the Ospreys take a 2-0-2 record into a matchup today with the Washington Dutch Lions. The Women’s Premier Soccer League Colonial Conference contest is slated for 7 p.m. at the team’s home field of DE Turf.
There are at least 16 college teams represented by players on the Ospreys’ roster. The University of Delaware and Delaware State University both have multiple players on the squad.
Twenty of the 25 team members are from Delaware high schools.
“It’s real important that we bring our girls back home to play,” said Ospreys’ coach Joe Brown. “Because our girls can play.
“The idea, certainly in the women’s game, is to get some quality soccer and development for our girls that are playing in the NCAA — so they can get ready for their preseason. This keeps them sharp in the offseason and they need more games. They’re competing against players that are quicker, stronger and faster now because they’re more mature.”
Indian River High grad Izzy Binko started all 17 games as a freshman midfielder at UMBC last fall. She’ll be headed back to campus soon to start getting ready for the fall season.
Playing for the Ospreys gives her a chance to get back to competing before being back with her team.
“I think this year we have a lot better competition and closer games,” said Binko, who is in her second year on the team.
“It was a good environment last year for me to get into the speed and the rhythm of how college plays — and keep up with that speed.
“The competition between not just the other teams but also (earning) a spot on the team helps keep the competition high and makes me a better player altogether.”
Davis said just practicing with the Ospreys last year, when she was more of a reserve, helped strengthen her skills. She’ll continue her career at Philadelphia’s Jefferson University after earning first-team All-State honors at CR this spring.
“I could sit the bench every game and being able to practice with these girls at this level is such a good experience,” said Davis. “Everything is just different — at a better level.
“It’s just altogether playing against the girls that we’re playing against and playing with these girls — it’s definitely getting me ready.”
Some of the Ospreys will end up competing against each other in the fall. But Binko said that doesn’t keep them from becoming pretty good friends in the short time they’re together right now.
“We all get along really well,” said Binko. “You can tell from the first game to even now, the bond we have playing and getting used to each other.
“Every season it’s different players coming in ... from college, to our high school team, just what everyone’s been taught. And we’re all from different clubs.”
For the downstate players, one of the nice things about being on the Ospreys is the chance to stay close to home while still competing over the summer.
Home games also give their families a short drive to see them play.
“It’s nice that they all come watch,” said Binko.
“I used to be the girl that had to travel up to Wilmington for (club) practice,” said Davis. “Now they have to come down here and I only have like a 10-minute drive.”
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 302-741-8227 or walter @iniusa.org.
Follow on Twitter at @DSNSports.
8-Sheyenne Allen, Mid Cab Calloway/Brown
22-Evan Amendum, Mid Sanford/Wm. Smith
3-Izzy Binko, Mid IR/UMBC
4-Ashlee Brentlinger, Mid Padua/Fla. GCoast
15-Chloe Davies, Mid England/M. Ga. St.
16-Paige Davis, Mid St. Georges/Fla. Inter.
2-Elle Davis, Mid CR/Jefferson
12-Anastasia Diakos, Fwd IR/Wilmington
10-Haley Dougherty, Mid Padua/Alvernia
24-Lauren Duffy, Mid Padua
6-Michaela Elliott, Mid Messiah
17-Alayna Eyman, Def Rising Sun, Md.
11-Brieana Hallo, Mid Padua/DSU
0-Abby Jones, Goal Arch/U. of the South