By Kevin Eickman
The Milford boys’ soccer team started the season on an unprecedented six game winning streak and since that time has suffered five consecutive defeats. As the level of competition increased during the middle portion of the season, so has the heartbreak.
This past Thursday Milford hosted a Sussex Tech team boasting a 6-3-1 record, along with some victories against quality opponents. With the Buccaneers desperate for a win, the stakes were the highest they had been all season.
“We really were looking to get a win tonight, we needed to show ourselves that we could beat a quality opponent,” Coach Ed Evans said. “Despite the fact we wanted to win, a great many players on both teams have known each other for years, so that was a factor too.”
The game was fast paced from the start, with Tech on the front foot early. The Buccaneers defense held their own against the attacking Ravens, with some key saves by Milford keeper, sophomore Kirk Hammer. “Kirk was very solid tonight and made some brilliant saves. Without him this game would not have been as close as it was,” commented Evans.
While a 3-0 defeat may not sound close, don’t let the final score fool you. After weathering the initial storm Milford became more aggressive offensively, striking the cross bar once and forcing the Tech keeper to come up with a big save. While both teams had their chances, the first half ended with the teams all square at 0-0.
To begin the second half Tech came out intent on finding the net. Generating solid play through the mid-field and once again putting the Bucs defense under pressure. This time Hammer was unable to bail them out. Tech senior John Whealton banged a goal in off the top corner to give the Ravens the goal they had been craving, just three minutes into the second half.
“That’s just the kind of goal you can do nothing about,” Evans said. “Whealton put it in the perfect spot, it hit the corner and the crossbar before going in, what a great goal that was.”
With Milford now behind they were forced to open up more on the offensive end. While the Bucs did have a few opportunities, there was nothing of consequence that the Raven defense did not deal with.
As time ticked on and Milford continued to chase, the inevitable finally occurred as Tech secured the victory in the 57th minute as junior Byron Suarez-Garcia scored off a counter-attack to double the advantage to 2-0. Tech added a late goal in stoppage time to round out the scoring.
This dropped Milford’s record to 6-5 for the season. “We have four games left, we are going to play every one of them as hard as we can,” Evans commented. “We are a little down tonight, honestly it is the first time I’ve seen it all season. But I know these players they are going to bounce back and give it their all.”
On Tuesday Milford lost to Delmar on the road 2-1 as their hosts netted two first half goals and held on for the win. Although Milford was attacking and had a number of opportunities in the second stanza, they only found the back of the net one time. “The Delmar game was very disappointing from the standpoint of how many opportunities we squandered,” said Evans. “We still have to remember that this is still a fairly young team that is learning each game.”
Milford will host rival Lake Forest Thursday with the game set for a 6:30 start.
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