By TJ Millman
After a disappointing 5-10 season last year, Milford Soccer has come out of the gate swinging. Milford is 3-2 so far, two wins better than last year’s 1-4 opening, and picked up revenge wins over two of the teams that beat them a year ago. Despite being bitten by the injury bug a year ago, Milford Head Coach Todd French also sees this year’s strong senior class as a major key to his team’s hot start.
“We have a lot of really good senior leadership, talent across the board, and underclassmen who all really want to win. We have some guys back, but we’ve also added some players in that we didn’t have last year. It’s still early, but the new guys have really helped our returning players grow this team in a positive way,” French said.
Milford had a chance to start 4-1 this past Thursday, but a few costly errors held the Bucs to 3-2. Milford traveled to play Sussex Academy looking to avenge last year’s 2-1 loss and left with an even worse taste in their mouth than the year before.
“Tonight was just their night. We know that those 3 or 4 moments of mental lapses gave this game away. Our defense had put up back-to-back shutouts coming into this game, and this just isn’t how we play. Even Jaxson (Turner) knows that it wasn’t his night either. As a whole, we just didn’t play up to our ability for the full 80 plus minutes. Our guys know it too. They’re pretty upset because they wanted this win, and they know that we let it slip away. This is one of those games where you just can’t wait to play them again,” French said.
French is right in saying that his team let them off the hook. The Sussex Academy team capitalized on Milford’s mistakes, but for a majority of the game the teams looked even, with Milford usually being the aggressor. Milford spent the first 15 minutes of the game attacking the Sussex Academy defense, only to be outdone when a long ball from the midfield landed behind senior goalie Jaxson Turner. Ten minutes later, Sussex Academy would strike again on a lead pass from the midfield that caught Milford’s defense standing flat-footed, leaving Turner all alone to the attack.
Milford’s aggression finally paid off late in the first half, when senior Lensky Legros scored a header on a ball from junior Sammy Dominguez-Perez, and the Bucs went into the half only trailing by one. However, Sussex Academy would put a stop to Milford’s momentum, scoring a quick goal out of the break and putting the game out of reach. The Bucs finished with 5 corners to Sussex Academy’s 3 and were outshot 9-8.
The loss puts Milford at 2-1 in the Henlopen South, but French knows that it is still too early to count anyone out.
“We still have a long way to go in this season. We know that this isn’t the end. The Henlopen South has been getting better every year, and it’s going to be a tough conference for anyone to win. Our guys know how much we have left, and I know they’ll use this loss to keep adding to that fire,” French said.
Milford’s next game is at home against 3-2 Middletown on Tuesday, October 2 at 6:30 PM.