Buffs outlast Tornado

Caleb Bollman of Milligan defends King's Josh Sokolow

  Milligan College hosted King College of Bristol in a classic men's soccer match Tuesday night at frigid Anglin Field on the Milligan campus.
  The Buffaloes of Coach Marty Shirley eliminated Coach Matt Lavinder's Tornado squad from NAIA Region 12 competition by a final score of 10-9 in a three-hour marathon that included two overtime periods and a 13-round shootout following regulation play that ended in a 1-1 tie.
  Milligan, fielding a roster and starting lineup with an international flavor, had its hands full with a patient, slower King squad that the Buffaloes had defeated twice earlier this season.
  "King has really improved this season," Shirley said. "We beat them 5-1 early in the season, and 2-1 last week, but they really pushed us tonight. They are a worthy opponent."
  Milligan went on the offensive early in the game, attacking the King net for the first four minutes of the game before a momentum shift to the Tornadotook play to the other end of the field.
  The Buffs missed a chance to score at the 36:50 mark when a free kick by Steven Townley was smothered by Tornado goalkeeper Brian Crunk, one of four former Knox Bearden Bulldogs on the King roster.
  King got on the scoreboard a couple minutes later at the 35:03 mark when forward Alex Mendy, a freshman from Gambia, scored on a nice assist from Dean Hughes, another talented freshman from North Wales.
  King played a deliberate, defense-oriented game for the remainder of the first half, taking only three total shots on goal, while holding the quicker Buffaloes in check despite nine shots. The half ended 1-0.
  The second half began with a furious Milligan attack, with the action close to the King goal looking at times much like a soccer scrum, only to be stopped by the gutty play of King's Crunk.
  The rest of the half was dominated by hustling, heady defensive play by both squads that was interrupted by a sense of urgency that seemed to take over the Buffaloes with nine minutes to play.
  Buff efforts were rewarded when midfielder Ali Mohamed scored on a stickback of a shot by Justin Fuller that deflected off the goalkeeper's hands and into the sights of the speedy Kenyan.
  That score was the final of regulation, which ended 1-1.
  Both 10-minute overtime periods were scoreless, so the first of two five-shot shootout periods began. That shootout ended with each team scoring three times.
  The second shootout period ended similarly, this time with each squad scoring four times against the tiring goalies.
  The third and decisive period, based on the first team to take an advantage winning, started with a goal by Milligan's Ali, equaled by a score by Ronno Ferreira of King, who played a brilliant game.
  The next shooters for both squads were denied by equally acrobatic diving stops by each goalkeeper.
  The stops were followed by a goal from midfielder Kofi Frimpong of Ghana, who gave Milligan the edge.
  King's Paul Eldridge, a Boone, N.C., native, then stepped up and kicked a shot that sailed high, giving Milligan a hard-fought victory and sending the Buffs to the next round of play where they will meet Mid-Continent University in Mayfield, Ky., this Friday at 11:30 am.
  Milligan upped its record to 15-7-2 with the win, and Coach Lavinder's young Tornado, who started "seven or eight" freshmen the entire season, ended their year with eight wins, seven losses and two ties.
  "I am really pleased with our efforts this year," Lavinder said. "We are a very young team, with 13 freshmen on the roster, and we exceeded all our expectations."
  Coach Shirley commended the defense of his entire squad, and pointed out the play of Kyle Wilcox and goalkeeper Jordan Fode as being particularly good.
  The Buffalo fans must have agreed. They chanted Fode's name as part of their field-charging victory celebration that marked the end of a highly exciting collegiate soccer match that will be talked about on the Milligan campus for some time.