Boys soccer: Memorable season for Milton-Union, on and off field

Milton-Union’s Keltonn Dillhoff led the Southwestern Buckeye League this season with 23 goals. Mia Richardson, CONTRIBUTED

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Milton-Union’s Keltonn Dillhoff led the Southwestern Buckeye League this season with 23 goals. Mia Richardson, CONTRIBUTED

The Milton-Union High School boys soccer team has produced some memorable moments this season.

The Bulldogs recorded their first season of double-digit wins since 2006 with 13 and counting. They beat league champion Waynesville for the first time in school history and topped Middletown Madison for the first time in six seasons. The ‘Dogs have the Southwestern Buckeye League’s top scorer in senior Keltonn Dillhoff. And they came within a victory of their first league championship in school history.

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But it’s what the Bulldogs have done off the field that coach Todd Winchester is most proud of.

During the summer the team volunteered at the House of Bread for the second straight year, preparing and serving more than 250 meals to the homeless. The Bulldogs boys and girls teams also volunteered at a Special Olympics tournament by officiating games, coaching and supporting the players. They formed a bond with the kids and invited Miami County’s Special Olympics soccer team to attend a Bulldogs game.

“Our point in doing that is people helping people,” Winchester said. “Using our sport, we think we have a responsibility as student-athletes to promote our program and using our sport to connect with people.”

Winchester, a 1986 Northmont graduate, took over Milton last season after coaching the Thunderbolts’ reserve team for three seasons. He also coached club soccer with the Gunners FC in Dayton.

At Milton he took over a team that until this season had not recorded 10 wins or more in a season since 2006 (10-6-2). When the Bulldogs started 4-0, Winchester said none of the players were alive the last time the program started that way.

“I took over the program last year and they really bought into the philosophy we put in place,” Winchester said. “They work harder than any group I’ve ever coached.”

Milton looks to carry its momentum into the Division III sectional tournament opener 7 p.m. Tuesday when the sixth-seeded Bulldogs host the No. 7 Miami East Vikings. The teams tied 1-1 at Miami East on Sept. 30.

“At this point its about the matchup and how you’re feeling that night,” Winchester said about the unpredictability of the postseason.

Dillhoff – who netted his 50th career goal this season – leads the SWBL with 23. Senior teammate Josh Daum has a league-high 12 assists.

“Keltonn is really good about using his body to create angles when he’s attacking the goal,” Winchester said. “He’s really good at creating separation.”

While the Bulldogs have scored 48 goals, the defense has been just as dominant. The ‘Dogs have allowed 10 goals through the regular season, the fewest in program history. Senior keeper Blake Ullery has allowed eight goals in 15 games. He’s posted seven shutouts with the help of defenders Trevor Grile, Tyler Ezerski, Avory Creech and Weaver Walton among others.

“Any time you can have a senior keeper with four years of varsity experience, that experience carries over,” Winchester said. “We’re playing really stingy defense and that’s how we frame our team. We preach defense first.”

The Bulldogs are still building with 14 players in the program. That also presents Winchester a challenge in keeping them healthy and fresh for the postseason.

“When you have a small bench like that you have to be really prudent with giving them rest during games,” Winchester said. “But they take everything I give them and ask for more.”

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