By Kevin Eickman
The stated goal at the beginning of the season was for the Milford boys soccer team to qualify for the State tournament. With a start to the season of 3-7 it looked as if the team would fall well short of that goal but the Buccaneers refused to quit on the season. In a two week span they put together a four game winning streak, defeating Seaford, Woodbridge, Laurel and Smyrna in that order. As a result of the winning streak, the Bucs found themselves in control of their own destiny. Needing either a win or tie, against the Polytech Panthers to gain entrance into the tournament.
Traveling to Woodside for senior day, it was indeed a tall order for the Bucs. Milford would start out in a hole, as junior Michael Flamer scored just 13 minutes into the contest to provide the Panthers with a lead. That goal would hold up for the entire first half, as Milford could not put the ball into the net, despite a few strong chances.
With Milford finding themselves starting the second half trailing 1-0, they where hoping to get on the board quickly to even the match. The Bucs wasted little time in accomplishing the task, as emerging sophomore Geovani Mariano-Nava put the ball in the back of the panther goal just 19 seconds into the half. The goal seemed to energize the Buccaneers, and it looked as if it would be just a matter of time before they added the go ahead tally. With each opportunity however, Milford failed to find the back of the net.
The first golden opportunity that the Bucs failed to capitalize on, occurred when they were awarded a penalty kick with 25 minutes remaining in the game. With Andrez Luna taking the kick, there was little reason to doubt the Milford would double their score. Despite a blistering shot by Luna to the top right corner of the net, Panther sophomore keeper Griffin Ott was able to make the save and keep the teams at level terms. Milford would keep the pressure up for the rest of the game, finding junior Peterson Mondelus over the top repeatedly. With each passing scoring opportunity however, either Ott would come up big or the Bucs would fail to connect.
The next chance for the Bucs would come on a set piece, in which Luna lofted a ball just inches away from the outstretched foot of Mondelus, who would have had an easy tap-in for goal with 16 minutes left in the game. Ott would come up big again, with just 10 minutes later, Mondelus would be turned away from just six yards out.
In overtime the Panthers would settle matters quickly, as senior William Lackey exited Polytech in style. Putting a header away just three minutes in, Lackey buried the ball in the back of the net and buried the Buccaneer playoff hopes in the process.
Talking with coach Ken Outten after the game, he thought the game was there for the taking, but like so many chances during the year, the Bucs just could not get it done. “When we scored that goal to start the second half, I thought the floodgates where going to open,” Outten said. “All season long we squandered chances at goals, and today it caught up with us one more time.” Milford concluded the season with a 7-8 record.