Bucs clinch third Henlopen South title in last four years

MILFORD – With the score knotted 11-11 with just under five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Milford High’s varsity boys’ lacrosse squad scored consecutive goals from freshman Aaron Sollie and sophomore Conor Christie to help the Bucs pull away with a 13-11 win over Lake Forest Friday night.

Sollie’s goal came at the 4:50 mark of the quarter, while Christie’s goal just 21 seconds later ended up being the decider.

The win, Milford’s second over Lake Forest on the season, clinched the Henlopen South title for the Bucs (9-2). It’s the program’s third title in the last four seasons.

Freshman Landan Hajek (19) and sophomore Alex Herka (3) celebrate a first-half Bucs goal in Friday night’s Henlopen South showdown (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“It’s another testament to our program and our kids, to be able to do that three times in the last four years,” head coach Blake Faulkner said following the game. “It really says something about the work they put in and the effort that they give. We’re not sneaking up on anybody when you do something like that once or twice, so it’s just a testament to them to continue to work hard and make sure that they come out on top.”

At this point, winning the Henlopen South has become an expectation for Milford lacrosse each season.

“We expect to win the south,” coach Faulkner added. “We come in every year, that’s our expectation – the Henlopen South is our division, it’s for us to decide every single year – and we’ll take on whoever comes out of the [Henlopen] North.”

Lake Forest (9-4) did not make it easy on the Bucs in Friday night’s showdown. The Spartans battled back from a four-goal second-half deficit and had the score tied up until the five-minute mark of the fourth quarter.

“I wish it wasn’t that way,” coach Faulkner said of the close-knit battle. “They have a tendency to play us tough the second game of the year. It’s crazy how the first one is – usually somebody takes it one way or the other, we’ve been lucky on that end – but they always play us tough at the end of the year. We just have to come out and be a little bit better prepared. We’ve started off slow the last couple of weeks and we have to find a way to get out of that.”

The offensive attack for Lake came out fired up, with senior Carter Kenton and his six goals leading the way.

Kenton scored the game’s first goal at the 8:01 mark of the opening quarter.

Senior goalkeeper Shane Gaglione (1) made 24 saves in Milford’s Henlopen South-clinching victory Friday night (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

Milford sophomore Alex Herka scored two of his four goals on the night in the opening quarter, but Lake Forest built an early 4-2 lead heading into the second quarter.

Milford’s offense out-scored Lake 6-1 in the second quarter to take an 8-5 halftime lead.

A Conor Christie goal less than two minutes into the second half would hand Milford its biggest lead of the night, 9-5, but four unanswered Lake goals tied the game back up with 4:36 left in the quarter.

Herka would put the Bucs back out in front with a goal at the 3:03 mark, but Kenton’s goal with 24 seconds left in the third quarter had the game tied up 10-10 heading into the game’s final 12 minutes of play.

After trading goals early in the fourth quarter, it was the freshman Sollie who shifted the momentum in Milford’s favor with his only goal of the night.

With Christie’s goal, his fourth of the night, coming with 4:29 left on the game clock, Milford’s defense had to step up and make some plays to preserve the slim lead.

Kenton scored his sixth and final goal with 24.2 seconds to spare, but it wasn’t quite enough for Lake to complete a comeback as senior goalkeeper Shane Gaglione and his defense sealed the deal.

“I’m really glad that we could clench down, come back from that surprising deficit that we had and to make sure to clinch that second dub of the year against Lake Forest,” said Gaglione, who made 24 saves on the night.

Lake Forest will cap the 2018 regular season with a pair of road games at Mt. Pleasant Saturday, May 5 at 11 a.m. and Woodbridge Wednesday, May 9 at 4 p.m.

Milford will celebrate Senior Night during its next game Monday, May 7 against Polytech. The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at Briggs Stadium.

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

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