Even in the midst of uncertainty this fall season, several Milligan University athletics teams have found a rhythm.
This includes the No. 13 men and No. 8 women of the cross country program, which have combined for a 23-2 record through four meets, and both soccer teams, which have combined for an 8-0 record.
ranked Buffs finding stride
The impact of COVID-19 has not slowed the Buffs one bit, as the No. 13 men remain unbeaten against all competition while the No. 8 women remain unbeaten against all NAIA competition. Milligan even has sent abbreviated squads to a few competitions and still come out on top.
One of the biggest highlights this year came at the midpoint of the regular-season schedule when the Buffs hosted the second annual Buffalo Creek Invitational and ran away with team victories on both sides.
Senior Tim Thacker led the men to a perfect score as they posted a finisher in each of the top 10 spots. Junior Avery DeWolf led the women, who placed five in the top seven.
Most recently, the Buffs took a trip to Charlotte for the Royals Challenge and took a team victory on the men’s side and third-place finish on the women’s side.
This marked the first defeat of the season for the No. 8 women, but it came against two NCAA Division II schools. Thacker once again led the men while sophomore Kelsey Mowrey led the women.
So far this season, the Buffs have won the Appalachian Athletic Conference runner of the week award five times, including sweeping the men’s/women’s awards on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5. Mowrey is the reigning winner on the women’s side after leading the Buffs last week at the Royals Challenge.
Milligan closes out its regular-season schedule this weekend at the AAC Preview, set for Saturday, Oct. 17, in Asheville, North Carolina.
After the AAC Preview, the Buffs will finish the fall at the AAC Championships on Saturday, Nov. 14. The NAIA Cross Country National Championships are set for Friday, April 9, 2021, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Milligan soccer teams face road test
Matching what the cross country teams have been doing in terms of success, Milligan’s soccer programs also are off to great starts and look to continue their recent run of form when they face Bluefield Tuesday night.
Both teams have been victorious every time out, including a 5-0 start for the women and a 3-0 start for the men. Ellie Cachiaras’ six goals lead the AAC, although she is one of 10 goal scorers so far this season for the Buffs.
Among the others, Audra Morgan and Poppy Smith have three apiece, and Smith is the reigning AAC offensive player of the week after scoring twice to send Milligan to a 2-1 victory over Brenau its last time out.
The Buffs’ first three matches saw a 13-0 margin of victory, and Milligan owns a 19-2 margin of victory through its first five games.
On the men’s side, the Buffs have seven goal scorers, led by freshman Victor Castel’s four.
Castel has two of the three game-winning goals, including one in the 80th minute of a 3-2 win over Point in the most recent game. Castel’s goal capped a comeback that saw Milligan erase a 2-0 deficit.
Milligan soccer is approaching the midway point of the season, with AAC Championships moved to Monday, Nov. 23 and Wednesday, Nov. 25.