By Kevin Eickman
This past Wednesday the Milford lacrosse team concluded the best season in team history. While the year ended with a 14-5 first round tournament defeat at the hands of Appooquinimink, the only way to evaluate this year is as a success. The Buccaneers concluded the year with an 11-4 record and their first ever appearance in the DIAA tournament.
On Thursday the team gathered one last time to reflect on this past season, at their annual awards banquet. It was an occasion to reflect on the just completed season and also to begin setting goals as the program moves forward. While addressing those gathered, coach Joe Vavala had nothing but praise for the the entire team. “We played some really close games this season, games where we were down early on. It just speaks to the character of this team that we never gave up,” Vavala stated.
In addition to winning lacrosse games, Milford also accomplished something that lends itself to the direction this program is heading. Milford not only played the game with intensity, but with respect. Respect for their fellow competitors, coaches and officials. “As a coach, when you watch your team carry themselves with pride and dignity, you can’t help but be proud of that,” Vavala stated.
Vavala and his coaching staff were recognized by the Henlopen Conference, as Vavala was named Coach Of The Year. Talking with Vavala about the award it is obvious that he felt there were not enough names on the plaque he received. “This is award is a testament to our coaching staff and team as a whole,” Vavala commented. “Coach Lopez, coach Faulkner and every member of our staff shares in this award, it’s a great accomplishment for us all.”
The Heart and Hustle award was presented to the player who gives it his all no matter what the task, this year the award was presented to junior Dylan Schleigh. “Dylan is the type of player that gives it his all, and works as hard as he can to get the most out of himself,” Vavala stated.
The Most Improved Player award was presented to sophomore Mark Henderson. “About halfway through the year he realized he could be a very good lacrosse player, after that he was outstanding., Vavala stated.
The Offensive MVP for the season was presented to junior Matt Viramontes. The third year player tallied 33 goals, while contributing 11 assists. “This is the first time we have ever had anyone score over 30 goals since I have been here,” Vavala commented. “…and that was just in 13 games.”
The Defensive MVP for the season was presented to junior Ben Mitzel. “He was the player that had to guard the oppositions’ best player every game, there were times where he even had some of his opponents a bit scared,” Vavala said. One staggering statistic for Mitzel was 75 ground balls, a number that is considered spectacular.
The Team MVP was awarded to sophomore Clay Stevenson. The Milford goal keeper stepped up to a leadership role this season, becoming a team captain early in the season while recording 257 saves. “I don’t know where this team would be without Clay, he is phenomenal,” Vavala stated.
The All Henlopen South first team selections were Viramontes, Mitzel and last but not least senior Evan Becker. “Evan is an absolute warrior out there, he will be sorely missed by us next year,” said Vavala. Receiving recognition for honorable mention, was Stevenson.