By Kevin Eickman
It had to happen sooner or later, the Milford boys soccer team was going to lose a game. That occurred this past Thursday evening as the Buccaneers fell to Caesar Rodney in a thrilling and intense game. All night long the teams battled with Milford finally yielding the game winning goal with just five minutes remaining in regulation.
The game was both a demonstration of how far Milford soccer has come and also what they need to do to get to the next level. From the very start the visiting Riders set up shop in the Milford defensive end. They tried to find their way through a compact Milford defense with a back line of three, led by junior Luke Bogan in the middle. The Bucs held firm however and began to work themselves into the game.
As their confidence grew, Milford found themselves on the front foot, creating several runs down the center and right side. While they were not connecting on all their passes they were sending a clear message to the visitors that the Bucs had come to play.
Caesar Rodney responded quickly however, securing the equalizer about a minute later. It was a blow that could have proved fatal to a young team like Milford, but the Buccaneers responded in positive fashion for the rest of the half.
“To give up a goal like that after just taken the lead can break a lot of teams, we stayed together though,” Coach Todd French stated. “Our guy’s heads never dropped, in fact they played with greater resolve for the rest of the half.”
With the teams starting the second half knotted at one, the game became a test of wills. While Milford started out on the front foot, a missed opportunity in the 55th minute proved to be their undoing. Shooting high with only the goal keeper to beat, the shot was the final solid opportunity for the Bucs.
The Riders began to apply greater pressure as the game wore on and the Milford defense continued to play strong. Besides Bogan, Milord Keeper junior Kirk Hammer was solid, if not spectacular in net turning back multiple shots from the Riders. Another player who had a solid game on defense was senior Evan Strickland who had several key tackles breaking up Rider runs along the Bucs defensive left side.
After the Riders broke through in the games 75th minute to take the advantage, Milford could do little in terms of attacking to equalize. Following the 2-1 defeat, French was pleased with the overall performance of his team. “We knew this was going to be a real test for us, it was going to either show we can play with some good teams or if we had just gotten lucky with how the season started out.”
The loss dropped Milford to 6-1 (2-1), a position few expected them to be in at this point in the season. French believes that his team can still get better from here. “The guys are really beginning to understand the system and the victories have shown them that the results are there,” French said. “We just have to keep working together as a unit and stay united.”
The Bucs will face three consecutive road tests which look to be quite challenging. This Tuesday they will head up to Middletown to face a Cavalier squad with an identical 6-1 record, before traveling to Polytech on Thursday to battle the 4-2-1 Panthers.
The Middletown game will begin at 3:30, while Poly will start at 5:30.
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