Buffaloes blank Scots in elimination round

By Wes Holtsclaw

   After emerging victorious in three of their last four regular season outings, there was only one thing standing in the way of the Milligan College Buffaloes during the elimination round of the AAC Tournament.
   But after the first half of their battle with the Covenant College Scots, Marty Shirley's Buffs held things together and sent their opposition packing, taking a 2-0 home win.
   "The boys came out and played well," said Milligan coach Marty Shirley. "Covenant knew they were in the regional so I didn't know if they would give their A-game or B-game."
   "We got their A-game early, but once we got up 2-0, they didn't think they could get three goals so they started subbing," he said. "We played hard and we're excited about Friday."
   Milligan advances to face either Brevard or Virginia Intermont. The Buffaloes will have to travel for their next game.
   "We've been stressing discipline and sticking to our gameplan," the coach added. "The players are smart and they're doing a lot of work on decision making."
   "We beat (Brevard) 2-1 the last time we played them, but we went outside a lot. We want to go inside. We lost 3-2 to VI and we're the only team who's been that close to them this year."
   Milligan took an early advantage in their battle against the Scots when Brian Okumu set up Steven Townley with a long shot into the outside corner with 11 minutes transpired.
   After some solid defensive execution, the Buffs picked things up again when Townley assisted Caleb Bollman with a big shot and goal to put the Buffaloes on top 2-0 with 37 minutes remaining.
   Jordan Fode took the shutout in the game after Milligan pulled away with some tough defense throughout the second frame. Tim Cobb made two shot attempts while Luke Herron had one shot saved by the Canadian freshman.
   After the match, Shirley announced that Milligan's Ali Mohammed was one of three candidates for the AAC MVP award that will be named after the conference championship.
   Freshman Justin Fuller is also in the running for the Freshman of the Year award, after being placed on the third team all-conference. Teammates Eric Starr and Justin Ruetz were named all-academic.
   Also making all-conference for Milligan on the first team are Mohammed, Okumu and Townley. David Lilly received a selection on the second unit.
   Milligan had more selections on the first team than any other squad in the conference.
   Saturday's battle also marked the return to Elizabethton of former Cyclone Luke Carrier, who started for the Scots.
   "(My college career) is going good," Carrier said after Saturday's outing. "I really enjoy Covenant. I feel like I'm improving and I'm starting to contribute to the team."
   Milligan's former Cyclone standout, Andy Ross, didn't get to play against his former teammate, but Carrier looks forward to their first meeting on the field.
   "I've always looked forward to playing against Andy," he said. "I wish he was out on the field, but when we're both there, it will be a great day."