By Kevin Eickman
One more win. That is all it would have taken for the Milford Buccaneers soccer team to qualify for the State tournament last season. The Bucs finished 7-6-2 last season, producing a winning season but falling short of their aspirations. With another season set to begin, coach Todd French hopes that Milford can reach their goal this year. “There is no doubt our goal is to improve and make the State Tournament,” coach Todd French stated. “It was real disappointing to come up short, but we just need to work harder to get where we want to be.”
One of the factors coming into play this year is scheduling. This season Milford had a hard time filling out their non-divisional schedule and as a result will play Laurel, Delmar and Seaford two times each. “There are some teams up north that we would like to schedule, but we just haven’t been able to do it for whatever reason,” French stated.
Speaking with French about this year’s squad, he likes what he has seen so far, with one key qualifier. “We are very good in the first 11 or 12 players, but we are a little thin after that,” French said. “Our numbers are down a bit this year, we only had about 30 kids come out. We are hoping to maybe add a few more once school starts.”
As with any high school team, they change from year to year. This season will be no exception for Milford as there are some big shoes to fill due to graduation. The biggest of which is the loss of Brandon Perez, from the center-back position. “Brandon is not going to be easily replaced, he is actually off playing at college now,” French said. “Our defense will be anchored by Kiki Torres, who is an All-Conference player at Left Back. He has the skills to play inside and we are confident that he will provide the stability we need on the back line.”
Another factor adding to the angst about the defense is that of goal keeper. Milford will enter the season with a keeper that has little or no varsity experience. Vying for the job will be senior Tyler Millman and freshman Jackson Turner. “Turner is going to be very good in the future, but for this season the job is wide open,” commented French.
The strength of this year’s squad will come from the offense, with the ability to put the ball in the net being a key for the Buccaneers. Senior Derrick Bogan and Evan Dieudonne will be looked at to provide some of the firepower up front. “Derrick and Evan are returning players who are very talented offensively that can provide the spark we need,” said French. “They are the types of players that cause problems for the opposition to defend against.” In addition, junior Darkenson Berrette is expected to add some offensive punch as well.
In addition to providing offensive production, Bogan and Dieudonne will be looked at to demonstrate leadership on this young squad. “In captains Evan and Derrick ,we have returning All-State and All-Conference players that know what needs to done,” French stated. “We believe that these are the guys that can be leaders on the field and help us take the next step.”
Milford will open the season in the upstate-downstate challenge this Saturday at 11:30, held at Dover High School.