Milford soccer finds positives in up and down season


Jerry Rea Photography

Milford soccer stands together during the National Anthem.

Zachary Koby, Sports Editor / Staff Writer

The Milford Varsity boys soccer team has had an up-and-down offseason after the graduation of multiple critical senior leaders. The 2021 All-Conference forwards Matt Mrozinski and Dylan Meek as well as -Conference Honorable Mention defender Alex Poti graduated last year. The trio combined for eight goals and eight assists for the Mavs. Head Coach Tommy Hipple had to look to returning varsity players and newcomers for some offensive firepower. “We graduated three four-year varsity players, some of our new kids have to step up and our returning kids have to be leaders,” said Hipple. Four-year varsity forward Cavan Burpee was one of the people Hipple turned to.

With there being a shift in leadership and play on the field, Burpee was not one to be phased by it. “Adjustments are difficult, but people step up in different places,” he said. “Our midfield has stayed the same the most. The most that have changed are the defense and the forwards. We’ve had two new starting center backs every year.”

The defensive shift for the Mavs was drastic, but Junior goalkeeper Wyatt Lesnew has been a rock in his two years as the starter. This season, Lesnew has posted two shutouts after facing many more shots than last year, but he has given many opposing teams fits with his stellar play in goal.

Milford’s season got off to a rocky start with losses to Walled Lake Western, South Lyon and South Lyon East, but recent wins against Waterford Mott and Walled Lake Central gives them hope. Hipple talked about the game against Central. “Beating Central at Central was definitely a favorite game,” he said. “We were down a couple of players, but we rallied together and some players stepped up so it worked together really well.”

Milford added another loss against Walled Lake Northern and two big wins against Waterford Kettering and Davison as the season went on. Despite the up-and-down season, Burpee had several positives about the team. “We move the ball around very well, we control a lot of the game and take up a lot of time of possession,” Burpee said. “That won us some of our games, our ability to play together and pass the ball.” Milford wrapped up their regular season with Lakeland at Milford.

The Milford Flop Squad was out in force on a chilly Monday night. “I mean it’s always great when kids that participate in other sports or other clubs come out and support soccer, football, volleyball, whatever it may be,” said Hipple. “That’s something I’ve always loved about this place; we’re always very community/ family based. It’s always nice to have kiddos that come out and support each other.” Despite the encouragement from the big home crowd, Milford faltered late and conceded a goal with just six minutes left on the clock, losing 1-0.

Milford looked to rebound in the Lakes Valley Conference tournament with an away match against the Knights of Walled Lake Northern. The Mavericks battled until the very end of the game but a late controversial goal put the Knights on top, 1-0. Milford conceded another goal moments after and lost their opening-round matchup 2-0. They were able to get a win back against a weak Waterford Kettering team as they dominated at home and won 3-0.

After a coincidental MHSAA District drawing, Milford got another shot at Lakeland as they faced off at Milford in the opening round. In the pouring rain on a cold Wednesday night, Milford looked to capitalize once again on home turf. The game started slow but two late Lakeland goals, one coming on a penalty, put Lakeland on top. Senior Brennan Conway scored in the final minutes to give Milford a glimmer of hope, but it proved to be too big of a deficit to overcome.

Despite graduating 10 seniors this fall, the Mavericks’ future is bright; they return over half of their team including this year’s leading goal scorer, junior Lucas Baidas as well as Wyatt Lesnew to hold down net-minding duties. They also have some fresh young talent that will be joining them next season. Make sure to catch the boys in action next fall as well as the girls this spring.