It seemed like deja vu all over again, as the the Milford soccer team defeated Indian River 3-1 to win the Henlopen Conference Championship Dec. 1 at the DE Turf Complex in Frederica. The Bucs had defeated the Indians Nov. 14 by the same score in the same way.
Indian River drew first blood with a goal at the 33-minute mark by senior Willem Lambertson. Milford’s Emanuelle Carranza scored the tying goal at the 37-minute mark. Samuel Dominguez hit the twine to take the lead in the second half, before Aaron Sollie chipped in the third goal with 12:33 remaining. The Indians couldn’t find their rhythm, and the Bucs ran the clock to take the championship.
Milford hadn’t won a Henlopen Conference championship since 1989. They finished the season unbeaten at 12-0-1.
“This game was special on many levels,” said head coach Todd French. “Deja Vu is a great way to describe the feeling of how the game went. After IR scored their first goal we didn't panic. In fact, we have only been behind in a game for 7 total minutes this season, both times against IR and full credit to all of my players, they didn't panic one bit. It helps to have 12 seniors on the team.
With everything surrounding this season, for our team to pull off the school's first Conference Championship in 31 years is absolutely incredible. And to think, this year almost didn't happen... it always scared me knowing that people might never have known about this group of players.”
The Bucs outshot the Indians 9-3. Milford goalie Kirk Hammer made a save, while his Indian River counterpart Bastian Perry made two.
“I think that going into that game my teammates and I were relatively confident in our abilities,” said Milford keeper Kirk Hammer. “Especially since we had already beaten them. I think that with our unbeaten record [11-0-1] we had just the right amount of character and confidence in order to keep the momentum going into a huge conference finals game. I‘ll be honest, letting in that first goal so early definitely worried me, but as soon as Manny scored off that free kick a few minutes later my confidence shot right back up. We beat them 3-1 before and we beat them 3-1 again, it felt surreal to be honest it’s just an amazing feeling. It feels awesome to be able to be apart of such a great group of guys.”
The Bucs start their DIAA Division I state title hopes seeded third. They will host No. 6 Middletown (8-2) at 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5.
“We are all excited and ready for the state tournament,” French said. “Everything from here on out is icing, but I like our chances of moving through the tournament.”
The Indians will open DIAA Division II play at 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, at Indian River. They will play the winner of the Saint Mark’s vs. McKean match.