By Kevin Eickman
This year’s version of the Milford lacrosse team is a treat to watch. In the past, two completed passes in a row might have been cause for celebration, but this year good ball movement is common place and the result has been a solid start to a promising season. All of these traits were on display Wednesday as Milford hosted an up and coming Indian River team.
Milford opened the scoring as junior Wesley Wilkins intercepted a pass from the Indian’s goalkeeper and quickly found the twine to give Milford the early lead in the game’s third minute. While Milford demonstrated better play in the opening minutes, Indian River was able to find their footing. They were able to tie the game with 4 minutes left in the first quarter, the equalizer was an indication of the tight contest that was to follow.
With Indian River now on the offensive, they wasted little time in jumping ahead as they scored just a minute later to take a 2-1 advantage. The first quarter scoring was not done however, as junior Matt Viramontes tied the game with just 24 seconds remaining.
Milford would once again move ahead in the second quarter only to have Indian River once again tie the game at three goals apiece. The Buccaneers took a penalty towards the end of the first half and solid play in the man down situation kept the game knotted as the half came to a close.
In the third quarter, Indian River took the lead with eight minutes remaining. Milford entered a man up situation with three minutes remaining in the quarter. The Buccaneers quickly took advantage of the situation as sophomore Mark Henderson squared matters at four goals each.
The fourth quarter witnessed both teams having chances to go ahead, but neither side could gain the advantage. Indian River successfully killed off a man down situation with under three minutes remaining in the game, only to commit another penalty just a short time later. This time Milford took advantage of the opportunity as sophomore Zachary Heesh scored with 1:28 left to give the Bucs the lead 5-4. After a 5-6 loss on Monday against St. George’s, coach Joe Vavala’s and his players were determined not to see this another close loss in the last few seconds of Wednesday’s game.
“Monday was a tough loss for us, it was a game we should have won but we just didn’t finish,” Vavala stated.
Wednesday was a different day however, a day that saw this talented Milford squad take another step in their continuing journey of improvements. Following the Indian River equalizer, Milford did not put their heads down or look like a team resigned to defeat. Instead the Buccaneers dug deep and found something within themselves that will serve them well in the future.
With time winding down, Viramontes worked his way towards the top of the crease, with the Indian River defense collapsing on him. Viramontes found junior Ring Lardner just to his left. Taking the pass and working towards the goal, Lardner faked his shot three times before finally putting it in the back of the net and with it a 6-5 victory.
“After I got the pass from Matt, it was just the keeper to beat. I was waiting for him to commit and once he did I took my shot.” Lardner said.
Scoring the game winner with just 12 seconds left was huge for this team and Vavala was thrilled with how his team responded to adversity “These guys wouldn’t quit tonight, it would have been so easy to think back to what happened Monday,” Vavala said. “This team has a lot of character to it, I’m very proud with how hard they fought tonight.”
Milford finished the week with 13-1 win at Sussex Central to improve to 4-1 on the season. The Buccaneers will host Delmar this Wednesday at 7:00 pm.