Bucs fall to St. Mark’s 1-0 in Division II soccer tourney opener

DOVER — The St. Mark’s boys’ soccer team scored early, leaving Milford plenty of time to find an equalizer.

But despite having a handful of attacks toward the St. Mark’s goal, the Buccaneers couldn’t find the back of the net.

Milford was knocked out of the boys’ soccer Division II state tournament with a 1-0 defeat to the Spartans on Tuesday night in a first-round game hosted at Dover High. The 11th-seeded Buccaneers end the season at 8-7-1 overall.

“St. Mark’s came out and played a really tough opening 15 minutes and we didn’t match it,” said Milford coach Todd French. “The game kind of went both ways after and I thought we played them pretty even the rest of the game, other than the first 15.”

St. Mark’s (8-4-4), the sixth seed, advanced to play third seed Tower Hill (13-2) on Saturday, at 7 p.m. at a place to be determined.

Delaware State News photos/Marc Clery

Milford’s best chances to tie came in the second half. The first had a shot deflected by a St. Mark’s defender find the hands of Spartan goalie Tom Gibb.

The second was at the end of a three-on-two breakaway. It resulted in a wild scramble in front of the set before a St. Mark’s defender cleared the ball off of the goal-line.

“It’s kind of been our bugaboo all year long is finishing,” French said. “That’s something that we’ll need to work on this offseason.”

Peter Coker netted the lone goal of the game when he scored in the first 15 minutes to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead.

Both teams had looks at goal after that, as Milford sophomore goalie Jaxson Turner did his best to keep Milford’s deficit at just one goal.

Turner made a point-blank save with his face on a one-on-one breakaway by St. Mark’s in the first half. He also stuffed another free look at goal by charging out toward an attacker in the second half when the Spartans again found a way behind the Milford back-line.

“That’s my keeper and I got him for another two years he’s going to be great,” French said. “He’s kept us in a lot of games this year. This was pretty typical of what he does.”

It’s the second year in a row Milford lost in the first round. The Buccaneers fell to Archmere 3-0 in last season’s state tournament.

“We got to where we wanted and we had our chance,” French said. “We didn’t capitalize on it but we’re exactly where we wanted to be when we walked off the field in last state tournament. We wanted to get back here and have another chance.”

Milford can take some solace in the fact it made the state tournament in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 14 years.

“We continue to get better,” said French, who is in his third year as Milford’s coach. “We have a culture that’s growing and guys that are really buying in.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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