C. Milton Wright Boys Soccer in Search of More than Postseason Success
C. Milton Wright's boys soccer team has the look of a team that can make a deep run in the state playoffs.
The Mustangs have raced out to a 6-0-2 mark to start the season, outscoring opponents 29-5 in the process. Last week, C. Milton Wright scored an impressive 2-2 draw with MIAA powerhouse, Archbishop Curley.
The result is yet another impressive one that C. Milton Wright has gotten in recent years. The Mustangs won three straight regional titles from 2013-15, even reaching the state championship in 2015. Last year, the group got knocked out in the sectional finals by Towson on penalty kicks.
To head coach Brian Tully, the form of the team the past few years has raised the profile of C. Milton Wright boys soccer, and changed the expectations surrounding the program.
"It's been a focus of ours to shift the culture and expectations within the program to have higher expectations, and clearly lay out what we think we need to do to accomplish these goals," Tully said. "The state final run in 2015 and the state semi runs the two seasons prior to that definitely helped create a new expectation of what the standard is for the program."
In terms of personnel, the Mustangs have five players left over from the state finalist group of 2015. Headlining that contingent is senior goalkeeper Ryan Miller, who has already made 38 saves while allowing just five goals. He's recorded four shutouts, which he's made a habit of doing throughout his career. In Miller's 61 career starts, he's registered 31 shutouts.
The offense has been provided from a number of different sources. Junior forward Conner Appleby has nine goals, while senior forward Brett Lindsey has six. Junior Ryan Belfiore has scored two and assisted three from the midfield. Right back Jayson Butler, also a junior, has matched Belfiore's goal total, and has three assists.
Another midfielder, Ethan Dolezal, is yet to score, but leads the group with seven assists. The group has also been aided by the return of senior midfielder, and captain, Sean Fleming, who had been out with an injury.
The group's talent is clear, but for Tully, his team's greatest strength is its ability to adjust.
"We feel we have multiple dynamic attacking options and we have the ability to adapt our style," Tully said. "We prefer to play a more possession and are an attacking minded team that looks to build around movement and combination play to create channels, and openings, before attacking them. However, we can go to a more athletic style of play when the game or opponent warrants it."
The match-up against Archbishop Curley was one of those situations.
The Mustangs conceded possession more than they usually do to have an organized defense. When C. Milton Wright did have the ball, the group pushed the ball wide in attack.
The Mustangs went behind early, but Lindsey nabbed a brace just before halftime. From there, Archbishop Curley upped the pressure and even scored an equalizer, but couldn't push ahead. It was the first time this season the Friars did not win a game.
"We've been talking a lot with the boys about how these games are the ones we are looking to, to show that culture shift mentioned before," Tully said. "We respect Curley, their talent and what they have accomplished but we walked onto the field expecting to get a result."
That seems to be the overwhelming sentiment surrounding C. Milton Wright's boys soccer program this year. A lot of teams begin a season with the sole goal of winning a state title. While that is certainly something the Mustangs want to accomplish, there is also an element of wanting more.
"As a coach, it would be great to be a part of the team that brings that elusive first state title in boys soccer to C. Milton Wright, but I'm more focused on moving the program to the next level in terms of competitiveness and their expectations," Tully said. "My goals are to demonstrate we belong on the field with the likes of Curley, McDonogh and Salesianum- that we should enter those games with just as much of an expectation of a result as we do any of our games."
|October 4th, 2017||By: Wick Eisenberg|