Second-half surge keys Milligan win


Photo by Dave Boyd
Alex Kimani who works the ball from the corner, scored a pair of goals for Milligan.

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com
It wasn't a pretty start, but overall, the Milligan College soccer squad got their job done.
With a big conference match against Bryan on the horizon, the Buffaloes hosted a tune-up against the Fighting Owls of Warren Wilson on Wednesday night.
While Milligan couldn't solve the Owls during the first half, it loaded the opposing goal with three quick strikes during the opening minutes of the second stanza to put their opponents away for a 5-2 victory at home.
"We never really played our game in the first half," said Milligan College coach Marty Shirley. "We attacked the flanks and it took us a whole half to realize that the middle wouldn't work. Warren Wilson never gave up in the last two minutes, and they got two goals."
It builds momentum off a solid Ohio Dominican Tournament outing, where the team won after knocking off Taylor University and Kenyon College.
"We won the tourney and had two great results," the coach added. "But our conference is so tough.
"We've got Bryan, who is 7-0 and they lead the conference, in a tough match on Saturday. I know we're capable of beating them. It's whether or not our defense can hold their own."
The Buffaloes dominated possession throughout the entire game, but couldn't get anything on the board in the first half.
Ali Mohamed, Greg Hochstetter and Eric Starr all had chances to make something happen in the beginning of the frame, but Will Pierza and Josh Shemroske were tough.
Milligan had a chance in the first half when Mohamed broke loose and took a shot, but he was devoured by Owls. It gave him a penalty kick, which he successfully put through to give the Buffaloes a 1-0 edge.
The squad explored Warren Wilson's weaknesses in the second half and used it to its advantage.
It all began when Brian Okumu found Alex Kimani, who bounced the ball off his chest and took it through the right corner for the score after six minutes had gone by in the half.
Two minutes later, Okumu played the corner and discovered Gabe Hillman, who sliced the ball into the same corner to take a 3-0 advantage.
Mohamed had a shot blocked, and Kimani set up Justin Fuller with a goal that was called back in a short, one-minute time span that could've been more disastrous for the Owls.
But the Buffaloes found their touch again when Okumu set up David Lilly. Lilly was blocked; however, Kimani came through with his second goal of the game with 24 minutes left in regulation to put Milligan up 4-0.
Neither team picked up the pace until Philip Brock scored Milligan's final goal of the game with nine minutes to go.
Warren Wilson finally got on the board late in the game after a bevy of Buffalo substitutions when Josh Shimroske scored. Daniel Dayton added a goal with 1:55 left, but Milligan successfully ran the clock out to preserve their win.
Kimani led Milligan with two goals off two shots. His first goal of the game was the 700th goal in Buffalo soccer history.
"We came out and needed a victory to give us some momentum," said Kimani. "We have a big conference match this weekend. We came out and had a big half. We played as a team and it made a difference."
Okumu had four assists for Milligan while Mohamed added an assist. Former Elizabethton High standout Andy Ross collected a field save late in the match.
Tom Romanoff led Wilson with his assist.