By Kevin Eickman
Over the last few years, there has been a steady improvement when it comes to the Milford lacrosse team. Beyond any measure, last season was the most successful season in Buccaneers history. Compiling an 11-4 record, Milford was able to qualify for the DIAA tournament for the first time. Although Milford would fall in the first round, it was clear that the Bucs were headed in the right direction. Following the season, word began to circulate that head coach Joe Vavala would be stepping down.
Milford did not have to look far to find a replacement however, as Blake Faulkner was tapped for the job. A graduate of Milford, Faulkner has been active in the development of many of the players on this year’s squad. “I have watched these kids develop over the last five or six years, so I have seen them improve and know what they are capable of,” Faulkner stated.
When asked about taking over as head coach, Faulkner said it is something he has always wanted to accomplish. “For as long as I can remember coaching this team has been something I wanted to do,” Faulkner said. “The fact that I am familiar with this group is a huge bonus, these are great kids and I am very excited about the opportunity.”
Speaking about what he expects out of this year’s squad, Faulkner believes that this years’ squad will be capable of picking up where they left off. “We have quite a few seniors and juniors on this squad that will be able to lead the way,” Faulkner stated.
Some of the seniors that Milford will be expected to provide leadership will be Ring Lardner, Matt Viramontes and Matt Groce. In addition, the return of junior Clay Stevenson as goalkeeper will keep the Buccaneer defense headed in the right direction. “What really stands out about these guys is that they are willing to put in the effort it takes to get better, that is going to pay dividends for us this season,” Faulkner stated. One of the areas Milford needs to improve in is communication. “Our guys need to talk better and be more aware of what everyone is doing,” said Faulkner.
Last year Viramontes played attack, this year he will be asked to play midfield which will require him to adjust his game, “We are going to be asking Matt to do a lot more, we are asking him to be more of a distributor of the ball this year,” Faulkner said. “He has been working very hard to improve his passing skills and he is becoming a better all around player as a result.”
Faulkner believes this is a key season for Milford and believes that this year’s squad will be able to make a statement about the future of Buccaneer lacrosse. “This year is all about Milford lacrosse being able to prove that we are here to stay,” Faulkner stated. “We have improved each year and that is what we intend to do this year.”
Milford will open up on the road March 23 at Red Lion. They will host Lake Forest on March 25 at 7:00pm.