By Chris Chaney
The Milford boys’ varsity lacrosse team finished up their inaugural season as a school-sponsored program on Friday, May 23 as the Eagles fell in the first-round of the Southwest Region Division II Tournament to Seven Hills, 13-11.
The Milford Lacrosse Club had been the school’s de facto team for the past decade, but a Sept. 19 unanimous vote at the Milford Board of Education meeting made things official.
“Advantage-wise, moving into school (sanctioned), we get more recognition moving (from club) into DII, which has helped,” Brian Cross, the Milford varsity head coach and Milford Lacrosse Club President said. “Our schedule doesn’t really change all that much. We play most of those teams as is, but being able to use the school facilities and get some more community support behind us (has been advantageous). The kids also have some more school pride.”
The 2014 edition of the Eagles returned a good chunk of the 2013 club team, which featured a large junior class. Cross said that the team was experienced and getting better as the season advanced.
“Part of my goal is not always what the record is, but are we getting better and getting ready for the playoffs,” Cross said.
After starting the season 2-6, Cross’ battle cry of getting better as the season went on manifested itself in the results the Eagles were able to post more into late April and May.
In fact, the Eagles went on a five-game winning streak to close out the regular season, which Cross said was an important confidence booster as they prepared for the postseason.
“We wanted to work on the little things (down the stretch) to get us ready for the playoffs,” the coach said. “We wanted to try and get better day to day, being cohesive and keep moving forward.
“We were hoping to get a first-round home game and from there you just have to keep winning.”
The Eagles did get the first game of the playoffs as a home game. The play-in game that took place on May 21 against Wilmington was held on Eagles Way and Milford ran past Wilmington 20-4 to earn a first-round rematch with Seven Hills, a team that handed the Eagles a 13-5 loss on April 21.
Although Milford fell to Seven Hills for the second time this year, the final score of 13-11 showed the marked improvement the team made and will seemingly continue to make as interest continues to build in the growing game.
“Overall, we’re right about the same numbers that we’ve been at,” Cross said when asked if there has been any growth since becoming sanctioned. “We’re right around 50-55, where we’ve been. We did get some newer kids out that have never played before.
“One of the biggest things (that has helped) is that I have a good relationship with the football coach; we share a lot of players. We’ve definitely gotten more recognition through that and through the school that’s going to help us going forward.
“We have a good youth program and that will be important to keep the experience and ability coming up through the program.”
As the sport continues to grow in the area and with a school affiliation, it’s safe to say that Milford is at the forefront of a movement that will only continue to gain traction over the next decade and more.