By Kevin Eickman
Entering Monday night’s game against Caravel, there was little doubt that the Buccaneers would be tested in a way they had not seen this season. One of the huge advantages that Caravel had was in the area of faceoffs. While Milford senior Dillon Schleigh has developed into a quality faceoff man, Caravel’s Jake Shriner is slated to play D-1 at Loyola. All evening long the two battled and while Shriner may have won most of the battles, it was Milford that won the war.
“We knew it was going to be tough for Dillon tonight, but he gave it everything he had,” coach Blake Faulkner said. “This guy wasn’t new to us, so even when he won the face off we had a defensive that was ready for what was coming.”
Milford started quickly in the first half, working the lead to 4-2 early the second quarter. Milford’s defense held strong, killing a penalty and then extending the lead to 5-2 after senior Matt Viramontes found sophomore Dallas Rhodes in front of the net. Rhodes let go with a blistering shot that extended the Milford advantage. Unfortunately Milford committed back to back penalties soon after, this time they could not keep the visitors from scoring. The teams would enter the half with Milford holding a 5-3 lead.
When the third period began, Caravel pressured Milford, forcing them to commit several errors. Caravel made Milford pay dearly, closing the gap to 5-4 with just over a minute gone in the third quarter. Caravel had Milford back on their heals for the next four minutes, turning back key Caravel chances, with junior goal keeper Clay Stevenson turning in two huge saves. Finally Milford got it going again as Viramontes drove towards the Caravel goal, letting goals with a shot that found twine. It was a goal that came at the perfect time and immediately energized Milford.
“We had come out kind of slow to start the second half, so it was real important that we get a score there,” Viramontes said. “It didn’t matter who scored it, we just needed it and I was real happy to get the goal.”
With the goal, the entire Milford team seemed to relax for the first time since midway through the second quarter. The result was 10 minutes of solid play that all but ended the game. Possession after possession, Milford was able to pressure the visitors. The result would be six unanswered goals that settled the issue once and for all. Speaking with Faulkner after the game, he was pleased with how his team had responded to adversity.
“Like we have all season, we got better tonight, especially when we needed to,” commented Faulkner. “Things were definitely less than smooth to start the second half, but our guys were able to grind it out.”
The victory pushed Milford’s record to 11-0 for the season, with four games left to play. Up next for Milford will be a huge game this Wednesday as they host Delmar. With a victory against the Wildcats, the Buccaneers will secure their first ever Henlopen South title. Milford knows Delmar will come ready to play, and are expecting a challenge.
“We know they are going to bring it on Wednesday, so we have to make sure we are ready,” senior co-captain Ring Lardner stated. Viramontes is really looking forward to the opportunity to face the Wildcats. “I wasn’t able to play when we beat them the first game, so this really means a lot to me.”
Wednesday’s game will start at 7 pm.