By Kevin Eickman
This past Friday night, the Milford lacrosse team played their ninth game of the season. Hosting Sussex Central, Milford did just what they had done in their previous eight games; win. The Bucs scored early and ended the first quarter with a 7-0 advantage. While on the surface that might seem impressive, speaking with coach Blake Faulkner it became apparent that Milford has raised the bar this season.
“We got the win tonight, but we didn’t start the way we wanted to,” said Faulkner. “We were sloppy with passing and possession, against a better team we could have easily came away with a loss tonight.”
Milford would record a 15-0 victory, with junior goalkeeper facing just three shots all night. Make no mistake about it, these are lofty numbers for the Bucs. It has been a long road for the program, but Faulkner knows there is still a lot of work to be done.
“We are not where we want to be yet, we still have a lot of work to do,” Faulkner commented. “We have really improved form where we were five years ago, but our goal is to become even better.”
The evolution of the lacrosse program these last few years has been remarkable to watch, it is a testament to everyone involved in the program. Not just Faulkner, assistant coaches Malik Lopez and Ryan Deeney, but the entire Milford lacrosse community.
“The youth program has been huge for us, that has been the real catalyst to the development of this program,” stated Faulkner. “When guys are getting to high school, they have the basic skills they need so that we can get right to making them more complete players than we have ever had here.”
On example of what Faulkner was referring to was the night that senior Matt Viramontes had. Viramontes scored four goals on the evening, a good night for almost any player. However, after early success, Viramontes was getting pummeled every time he got near the net for the remainder of the first half. Failing to pass out of double and sometimes triple teams was hurting the Bucs. During halftime coach Lopez worked with Viramontes on what was happening, the dividends were instant as Viramontes passed out of a double team to a wide open Mark Henderson, right in front of the net. The Buccaneer junior easily converted it for one of his four goals on the evening.
“That is the kind of work and leadership we look for from all our players,” said Faulkner. He went on to say, “Everyone on the team is willing to put in the work, it is one of the things that we count on.”
While a season record of 9-0 looks good on paper, Milford really has not accomplished a whole lot yet. There schedule can be described as less than challenging to this point, with some big games coming up. While the Bucs will host a winless Indian River this Wednesday, there are two huge games the following week. First up Milford will host a 4-4 Caravel Academy on May 4, who have played some tough games. Following Caravel, Milford will host Delmar on the May 6 in what could be a de facto Henlopen South Championship game. It took everything Milford had to earn an overtime victory when the Bucs traveled to Delmar earlier in the season. Faulkner knows that his team needs to be ready to play going forward.
“We need to come ready to play every night, teams know what we are about and are starting to step up their games against us,” Faulkner stated. “Delmar would like nothing better than to beat us on our own field and take the title.”
Start time for all three games is 7pm.