By Kevin Eickman
In their final game as Buccaneers the Milford boys’ soccer team faced a daunting task as they battled a 6-6-2 Cape Henlopen team, which Milford had not beaten in over 10 years. With the visiting Vikings looking to once again display their dominance, Milford faced a tall test.
“They are a really good team so we knew that we were going to have to play our best tonight in order to get the result we wanted,” stated coach Todd French.
That was exactly what Milford did as they kept Cape off balance for most of the game in an unexpected 3-1 victory. The game started in fantastic fashion for the Bucs as senior Ander Gutierrez-Perez knocked in the game’s first goal in the 19th minute.
“It was a really big night for us, I’m just so happy we got the win. This team works so hard and we are like a family. I was just happy I was able to help out tonight,” stated Gutierrez-Perez.
The teams continued to battle back and forth as the Cape attack was relentless. Every time it looked as if they would find the equalizer in the first half, the Milford defense found an answer. Whether it was the back line or junior keeper Kirk Hammer, the Bucs stood tall.
As the back and forth continued, Milford searched for a second goal. Their hopes were realized in the form of a penalty kick in the game’s 33rd minute. After a penalty was called against Cape in the box, Milford sophomore found twine from the spot to double the Bucs advantage to 2-0. They took this lead into the half.
Cape came out determined to get back in the game, pressing up at every opportunity. Milford played the beginning of the second half with Gutierrez-Perez playing alone up front as the lone striker. While the Cape attack was solid, it also left them susceptible to the Bucs counter-attack. In the opening minutes of the second half, Gutierrez-Perez did everything but score on two separate beaks. On the first he headed just wide of the net. His second shot at goal resulted in a spectacular save by the Cape keeper to keep the Viking deficit at 2-0.
Continuing to attack, Cape finally found the back of the net in the games 66th minute, changing the feel and texture of the contest. “When you give up a goal like that you can either put your head down or fight back harder. Tonight, we fought back harder,” French said.
While the Milford defense continued to get tested, the offense responded by pressing forward a bit more. While Milford was unable to connect on a pair of scoring opportunities, it was clear that they were not going to just sit back and let Cape control the flow of the game.
With time running down their effort and hard work paid off in the 75th minute as junior Manny Carranza let one fly from just inside the box. With the goal Milford stretched their lead to 3-1 and settled the issue once and for all.
Speaking with senior Angel Moreno, he believes big things are in store for next season. “There is going to be a really good team on the field next season, just watch. These guys have something special and I was really proud to be a part of this program and I am going to continue to support them going forward,” he said.
Senior Seven Wilson was quite emotional about the victory. “To come out like we did tonight and get the win is just amazing. I love these guys; they are my family. I honestly believe it’s going to get better for them next year and I can’t wait to see it.”
Evan Strickland, who transferred in for his senior season form Greenwood Mennonite, was thrilled that he made the choice to play at Milford. “I am so happy with being a part of this team. They are a great bunch of guys and we really look out for each other. Everyone has each other’s back and that is huge.”
The victory improved the Bucs record to 8-6 with one final game left to play this Tuesday at Laurel.
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