Milligan blanks Eckerd College

Photo by Dave Boyd
Milligan's Caleb Bollman and Eckerd's Michael Clayton battle for the ball.

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent
After a 6-0 loss to the Eckerd Tritons last year, the Milligan Buffalos had their turn with a 5-0 victory Saturday.
Milligan head coach Marty Shirley was pleased with the payback for last season.
"The boys played really well. I am very proud of them," he said. "We played Eckerd last year and had a really poor performance down there, so it's nice to get a good result here. We came out and played really well at the beginning of the season. We had about three or four matches where we were just sort of mentally out of it. These last two matches, we are really clicking."
The Buffs dominated possession of the ball with 12 shots taken compared to the Tritons three. Their offense was led by junior Steven Townley of Australia. Townley scored three of the five goals in the first half. Junior Alex Kimani also had a good offensive showing with two assists to Townley in the first, and one score in the second.
"The boys did real well and got up in the first and made them play a different type of game," Shirley said. "We moved Steven Townley from the back to up top and he has been tremendous. He has really been able to lift us up."
Senior Phillip Brock had one shot for a goal in the second off an assist by freshman Caleb Bollman. Freshman goalkeeper Joel Wanyoike of Kenya had an easy afternoon with only three shots to save.
However, two things are the thorns in the side of the Buffs -- their short roster and their defense. They had only three substitutes for the game.
"We have had a lot of injuries," Shirley said. "Starting at the beginning of the year, we had a guy out with a concussion. He can't play anymore. He has had too many. We lost three guys who just didn't want to play anymore. In the middle of the year, we lost one guy to an ACL, one to a broken arm and one has a broken back.
"We have a total of seven guys who are not playing anymore. They are out for the year. It has really changed our lineup and played a lot on our mentality, but we have been strong and stuck with it.
"[Defense] is looking a little scary back there. We don't play things simple. We try to get too complicated at times with things, but when we play smart and simple, there is no problem back there."
Even former Elizabethton player Andrew Ross said: "Actually, we have been going just one game at a time. We seem to have a tendency to overlook things a bit and it gets us in trouble."
Sophomore Robbi Arnold of Hickory, N.C. will have the cast shortened on his broken arm next week and hopes he can get back into the game by postseason.
Next week includes the final two games in the regular season for the Buffs, who will play local rival King College and Tennessee Wesleyan College.
"All three of us are in the playoffs but [the next two games are] going to decide seeding," Shirley. "So, there is a lot at stake with those two matches. We have been doing a lot of fun things in practice to get their minds off soccer, and we have done a lot of mental type exercises, trying to keep us sharp and ready for the postseason."
Shirley said what it will take to beat King and Tennessee Wesleyan is, "A lot of prayer, a lot of prayer."
Shirley added: "Matt Lavinder has a solid club over (at King), but it doesn't matter. We both connect down here, so it's going to be a great game.
"If you can't get up for King, then you shouldn't be in the game. King will be coming, and I am sure they will bring their A game."
The Buffs will take on the Tornado at Milligan Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Tennessee Wesleyan match will also have the home field advantage on Saturday at 2 p.m.