By Kevin Eickman
Last season was a bit of an up and down year for the Milford High School Buccaneers boys’ soccer team. They started out of the box red-hot with a six-game winning streak. However, in the middle of the season, the Bucs dropped five in a row, with three of those games finding Milford on the wrong end of one-goal score lines. The result would be a 9-6 record with Milford just missing out on a spot in the Division I state tournament. “We put together a good season last year, just not the one we were hoping for.” Coach Todd French said. “This year we are hoping to improve on that and take the next step.”
The next step for Milford would be a spot in the tournament and turning some heads along the way. This is not just any Milford team; French believe this year’s team feels like it is on the verge of something very special. “We are returning eight seniors this season, featuring a multitude of players who garnered All-Conference and All-State recognition,” French said. “With the team we have coming back, I have no doubt in my mind we are in for a big season.”
With the on and off again nature of the season, Milford is lucky to have so many experienced upperclassmen coming back. “The guys were kind of bummed out when it didn’t look like we would be playing in the fall,” French said. “The one thing everyone did was keep positive and stay ready to play. They conducted their own individual workouts, staying in shape just in case we were able to have a season.”
The season will look a lot different with Milford limited to competition against only Henlopen Conference teams. “When you take a look at the teams in our conference, there is little doubt that we will be facing some of the top teams in Delaware. The hope is that we are able to complete the season safely and make sure that we can play at the level we are capable of,” French said.
Milford played on the front foot last season and is expected to do the same this year. With seniors Aaron Sollie and Sam Dominguez, joined by a senior transfer from Sussex Tech, Shaun Chelton, French believes there is a lot of firepower up front. “We have a great bunch of playmakers who know how to find the back of the net,” French added. “They all have skill on the ball and a great turn of foot, these guys can really get after it.”
The defense will be anchored by arguably one of the better players in Delaware, in the person of All-State senior Luke Bogan. Bogan has continually demonstrated leadership on the field to go along with his skill on the ball. “Luke may be one of the best players in the history of Milford. We play down here in the south, so sometimes players don’t get noticed. In the case of Luke however, he just pops right out at you, you simply can’t miss him.”
When it comes to the keeper position, yet another Milford senior will be manning the position, Kirk Hammer. “Hammer is a solid goalkeeper; he posted six shutouts last season and made some huge saves when we needed them. He is another player who provides that mixture of skill and leadership, it’s great to have him back for one more season.”
Luke Sollie, who has the makings of being something special, is a freshman to keep an eye out for this fall. “It is pretty impressive for him to make the squad; he has a twin brother (Paul) who just missed out on the team, but I would expect to see him do big things in the future as well,” stated French.
A look at the Milford schedule gives you a peek in to the uncertainty regarding fall sports in general for the state of Delaware. The first week of the season has Milford playing three games, with the final game of the week being the Bucs’ home opener against Lake Forest, also being Senior Night. “There is no doubt there is uncertainty on whether or not we will finish the season, so we want to try and make sure our seniors are recognized no matter how things play out,” French said.