Boys’ soccer making great strides under head coach Todd French

DOVER – In three seasons at the helm in Milford, head coach Todd French has led his boys’ soccer squad to two state tournament appearances. It could have easily been three appearances.

A 1-0 loss to St. Mark’s in the opening round of the tournament Nov. 8 may leave a sting, but it doesn’t diminish the strides coach French and his squad have made since 2014.

Just 10 minutes into last Tuesday’s match, St. Mark’s got a goal from junior forward Peter Coker. Senior Michael Ziomek assisted Coker on the play. The goal proved to be the only goal the Spartans would need.

“St. Mark’s came out and played a really good, tough first 15 minutes of the game. We didn’t match it. They got a goal from it,” French said.

“Then the game kind of went both ways. Fifteen minutes our way, 15 minutes their way. I thought we played them pretty even the rest of the way, after that first 15 minutes.”

Despite garnering more corner kicks than St. Mark’s (4-3) and seeing opportunities to score early in the game, the Buccaneers had trouble finishing plays in the shutout defeat.

“It’s something that we’re going to have to work on a lot this off-season,” French said.

While French’s squad will be graduating eight seniors this year, he still feels there are enough key pieces in place that they will continue competing at this level. Especially considering he’ll be returning sophomore goalkeeper Jaxon Turner.

“That’s my keeper, I’ve got him for another two years. He’s going to be great,” French said of Turner’s future. “We’re going to rely on him a lot.”

A loss in the first round of the playoffs, especially in a hard-fought 1-0 battle, is difficult. But Coach French remains positive when looking back at what his 2016 Buccaneers’ squad managed to accomplish.

“I think we did what we set out to do,” French said. “We got to where we wanted to be. We had our chance. We didn’t capitalize on it, but we are exactly where we wanted to be at this point last year when we walked off the field.”

Sports editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com

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