The Milligan College soccer team has leaned heavily on Sandre Wilson since he showed up on campus two years ago.
Coach Adam Laney knows by now that the rugged forward from Jamaica can handle it.
“He’s a guy who has a lot of pressure put on him, before the game and in the actual physicality of the game,” Laney said Thursday. “We’re asking to fight off two and three players sometimes, but he’s very strong and he’s doing it. He’s drawing defenders and scoring goals as well.”
Wilson has 23 goals in two-plus seasons at Milligan. He’s currently tied for the team lead this season, with four, and also has a couple of assists as the Buffs have gotten off to a 3-2 start.
The team won its home opener 3-0 over University of the Cumberlands on Wednesday night. Wilson had a goal, and Chris Ochieng scored and had an assist in the latest example of what he brings to the team.
“Chris Ochieng is a very special player,” said Laney of the junior forward from Kenya. “We only had him for a handful of games last season. He had played for Chattanooga’s semi-pro team over the summer and had dislocated an ankle. He’s now back at full strength.
“He has great vision and makes passes other guys don’t even see. He really makes the game look simple.”
Senior Nahom Tekle rounds out the offensive punch for the Buffs. The forward from Louisville has four goals – three in the first 16 minutes of the season against Carson-Newman – and two assists.
The rest of the team has combined for three goals and two assists.
Laney likes the makeup of this bunch, which was picked third in the Appalachian Athletic Conference, behind Bryan and Tennessee Wesleyan.
“We’ve definitely got a lot of potential,” he said. “We had a couple of hiccups which got us to 3-2, but we’re getting better. The core of the team is the same, the personality is the same. We’re just maturing.”
The Buffs open conference play Saturday at Bluefield.
The women’s soccer team also kicks off its AAC schedule Saturday at Bluefield.
The Lady Buffs have to put a double-overtime loss Wednesday night at University of the Cumberlands behind them. Toni Dempsey knocked home the only goal there in the 109th minute, dropping Milligan to 2-2-1 for the season.
Senior forward Rachel Martin and junior midfielder Samantha Barton lead the Lady Buffs with three goals apiece.
Sophomore goalkeeper Lauren McInturff of Kingsport was named AAC defensive player of the week on Monday.
The Buffs rallied in the final round to win the AAC Fall Golf Championship on Tuesday.
They had trailed Tennessee Wesleyan by three strokes after the first day of action at Glen Cannon Golf Club in Brevard, N.C. The Buffs then shaved 15 shots off their score to post 290 and beat the Bulldogs by two.
Junior Whit Brown led the way at 1-under-par 143, followed by senior Daniel Foster at 147. Trevor Banks of Virginia Intermont was medalist at 141.
The Buffs will take on Tennessee Wesleyan again in a match-play event next weekend at Springbrook Country Club in Niota.
Winged Deer Park will play host to the 21st annual Milligan Fall Softball Classic this weekend.
The event features nine college teams and 12 travel teams. The latter will be involved in pool play Saturday and then a single-elimination tournament on Sunday.
The college teams joining Milligan will be Tusculum, Lees-McRae, Walters State, Virginia Intermont, Lincoln Memorial, Concord, Roane State and Anderson. The Lady Buffs will play games Saturday against Lees-McRae Tusculum; on Sunday they’ll face Walters State, VI and Anderson.
Games begin at 9 a.m. each day.
It’s been a tough start to the volleyball season for Milligan.
The Lady Buffs were 2-9 heading into a road match Thursday night at Tennessee Wesleyan. They had split their first two conference matches, including a 3-1 home loss to Union on Tuesday night.