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By Kevin Eickman

Time was winding down and there were just a few second left in the opening round State Lacrosse Tournament game between Milford and Salesianum. This was not a moment to discuss strategy or come up with a last minute plan to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. This was just a timeout for a coach to say “thank you” to his team. Milford was on the cusp of a 20-8 first round defeat at the hands of one of the legendary athletic programs in the State of Delaware but Milford coach Blake Faulkner wanted to remind his team of all they had accomplished.

“We wanted them to make sure they celebrated the season when the final horn blew. We wanted them to understand how proud we were that they never gave up when it would have been so easy to just pack it in tonight,” Faulkner stated.

As the visitors, Milford had to travel to Wilmington to battle the number three seeded Salies. It’s a trip that would cause most teams a bit of angst, which was apparent on the part of the Buccaneers from the outset. Within the first three minutes of the game, the Bucs surrendered four goals and looked to be completely outmatched. While the Buccaneers gathered themselves, the goals just kept on coming from Salesianum. The result was a 10-1 lead at the end of the first quarter; however, they made the decision not to go quietly.

“When you get down like we did tonight against a team of this quality it is so easy for players to start hanging their heads,” Faulkner stated. “We didn’t do that tonight, our program did exactly what we always strive to do. We sucked it up and played our best.”

The second half began with Milford trailing 16-3, battling a running clock as well due to the goal differential being 12 goals or greater. The Buccaneers hung tough however, fighting back on multiple occasions to stop the running clock. While Salesianum substituted freely, they were repeatedly forced to put their first string players in as Milford refused to go away.

“We always knew this would be an almost impossible game for us to win, we also knew it was an opportunity for us to improve as a program. When you take a look at where we were a few years ago and where we are today, the difference is night and day,” said Faulkner.

Speaking about the program, Faulkner offered a special thanks to his seniors. Jonathan Gaglione \ scored a goal and added an assist in his final game as a Buc, completing his Milford career as the all-time points leader with a tally of 234 points.

“Jon-Jon has been a real special player to coach. He always brings a positive attitude and even when we got down tonight he wasn’t going to go down without a fight,” stated Faulkner.

In another tip of the cap to a senior, the Milford keeper was pulled at the start of the fourth quarter in recognition of the work he did between the pipes this season. As he approached the Milford sideline, Ryan Frost was mobbed by his teammates in recognition of his work.

While it is clear that there is a gap between the top teams in Delaware Lacrosse, it is also Faulkner’s belief that that gap is narrowing. “This is not going to happen overnight. What you need to do is take a look at all the progress we have made and we need to continue to build on that. The developmental programs in the community are starting to pay dividend and I think it is going to continue.”

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