Most seasons, there is usually one team that always seems to have your number, and somehow — no matter how hard you try — they always seem to get the best of you.
The Indian River High School boys’ soccer team has one of those proverbial thorns in their side this season known as the Milford Buccaneers. The Indians’ lone loss this season came at the hands of the Bucs back on Nov. 14, by a score of 3-1.
So, with that in mind, the Indians were looking to avenge that loss when the two teams collided for the Henlopen Athletic Conference championship on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at the DE Turf Field Complex.
Unfortunately, it was a case of deja vu for the Indians as they fell to Milford again, and by the exact same score, 3-1. What made this loss even eerily similar to their last was that the Indians scored first in the championship game as well before the Bucs scored three unanswered goals for the final verdict.
“They’re a really good team,” said IR head coach Steve Kilby of Milford. “I really like their opportunities and chances going forward in their [state] tournament. Unfortunately for us, a few mental errors, a few physical errors, and that’s what happens.”
The Bucs (12-0-1) are the #3 seed in the DIAA Division I bracket, which gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 5, when they host #6 seed Middletown.
As for the Indians, senior Willem Lambertson was able to strike first in the 33rd minute thanks to a beautiful through pass assist from sophomore Jordan Illian.
Milford responded four minutes later to tie the score when Emanuelle Carranza slipped a shot passed IR goalkeeper Bastian Perry.
In the second half, Milford added a pair of goals off the feet of Samuel Dominguez and Aaron Sollie in the 58th and 68th minutes, respectively.
The Lamberston goal would prove to be the lone highlight of the night for IR as the Bucs bottled up Illian, and really limited the offensive opportunities for the Indians the entire game.
“He was heavily marked, and unfortunately he’s gonna have to get used to that for the next two years and the rest of this season,” Kilby said of Milford’s defensive strategy in stopping the Indians’ leading scorer. “(Other teams) know who he is. We’ll have to see what happens on Saturday.”
Milford is heavily loaded with 12 seniors on their roster of 22 in their final seasons of scholastic action. Similarly, IR has 10 seniors on its roster amongst its 22 members.
The Bucs out-shot the Indians 9-5, while IR had a 3-2 edge in corner kick chances, but couldn’t convert any of those opportunities.
Perry made two saves for the Indians with Kirk Hammer turning aside one IR shot for the win.
The Indians now turn their focus towards the DIAA Division II state playoffs as they are the #1 seed in the bracket, and will host the winner of #8 St. Mark’s (7-3-2) and #9 McKean (6-4), which was played on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
The bye to the quarterfinals gives the Indians (11-2 overall) a home game, and it will take place on Saturday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m. For full coverage of the game, check out the Coastal Point Sports Facebook page.