NEWBURYPORT — As a 16-year-old foreign exchange student from Sweden, John Milton has had a lot to get used to.
But it is in his role as forward on the Newburyport boys soccer team that he has grabbed people’s attention, both helping the Clippers to make the state tournament, then sinking the second of the Clippers’ five goals against a rough Tech Boston team in the tournament’s first round Sunday morning.
“He was working his butt off when he scored that goal,” Clippers coach Shawn Bleau says of Milton’s first tournament goal in the 5-3 victory. “He worked hard and took on some big kids at the same time.”
The fact that Milton has two goals and one assist on his varsity season doesn’t tell the whole story. Arriving in Port from Sollentuna in late August with some back issues, Milton was slotted into the junior varsity squad. Then the sophomore scored two goals against Hamilton-Wenham and was sent up to varsity just after mid-season, scoring his first big-time goal on the road against Triton in the 2-0 victory that clinched a tournament berth for Newburyport in mid-October.
“Everybody was very welcoming,” Milton says of his arrival on the team. “I’m always looking forward to going to soccer practice and every pasta party. And it is such a great team. Everybody is so close to each other, everybody is great friends.”
This is Milton’s fourth time in the United States. He visited in 2003 and 2007, and stayed with his Newburyport host family, the Emersons, last year. Now, he’s here for the entire 2012-2013 school year and has a unique take on his adopted home.
“I love Newburyport,” enthuses Milton. “Everybody is so nice. It’s a little town next to the water. It’s quite similar (to Sollentuna) but it is a much smaller town. We have 60,000 (residents) in my town. In our downtown, we have a big mall and everything. But it’s prettier here.”