The 2017 Buccaneers boys soccer team had a down year, finishing 5-10 overall and missing the state tournament just one season after making the playoffs.

The Buccaneers are eager to show last year was a fluke. With a nice mix of talented and experienced seniors and underclassmen, Milford seems ready to get back into the hunt in the Henlopen South Division.

Milford will open their 2018 campaign Tuesday, Sept. 11 against Caesar Rodney at DE Turf Sports Complex at 5:30 p.m.

The Buccaneers will open at home Thursday, Sept. 20 against Seaford at 6:30 p.m.

“Our team is very anxious to get the season started,” said head coach Todd French. “We have a large number of returning starters and they realize that last year was a big disappointment. They seem eager to make amends for last year’s lack of success.”

Last year, Milford struggled at the beginning and the end of the season. They started off poorly, winning just one of their first six games. After improving to 4-6, the Bucs stumbled down the stretch, taking just one of their last six.

One key to a turnaround this year will be having a strong leadership core, one French believes is in place.

“Jaxson Turner, our only returning All-State player, is our obvious leader, but we will also be looking to fellow seniors Sammy Perez and Erens Mondelus to help lead our team,” French said. “All three of these seniors are extremely talented, and any of the three are capable of leading the team on the field.

“Sammy will lock down our defense with Jaxson in goal and we will look to Erens for a lot of offensive leadership.”

With their opener under a week away, French and his staff are taking every opportunity to analyze and improve.

“We’ve already had a few scrimmages and as a coaching staff we’re looking to get our players in game shape and see what some of the new players can do on the field,” French said. “We have a lot of versatile players on this team and we use the scrimmages to see where they will best serve the team.”

When it comes to expectations, aside from the obvious improvement in wins and losses, French wants to put as prepared a team as possible on the field, each and every game.

“At the end of the day, we want to see our players going hard on the field and getting better with every opportunity that they have,” French said.