“I knew it was going to be a difficult game,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “They didn’t lose a lot. They had their best players coming back. The game was well played both ways. It was impressive. Both teams brought it in the heat and put on a good display for the fans.”
Stratton got on the board first, 15 minutes into the match, when Liam Mooney headed a corner kick past Twin Valley goalkeeper Logan Boyd.
“Mooney’s a big kid, about 6’ 4”, who can hit goal kicks a country mile,” said Hayford. “Stratton had a corner, and I saw it coming. I saw him lurking on the backside of the box. Sure enough, the ball was hit perfectly. Logan came out, but it was an easy header.”
Logan Park came up with the equalizer for Twin Valley four minutes later, scoring on a ball played by Jack McHale. Park would score again at the 36-minute mark, and this time Colin McHale was credited with the assist.
After halftime Twin Valley appeared to have the better play, but it was Mooney who tallied the only score of the second half. Stratton was awarded a free kick. Mooney lined up from 35 yards out and hit a lofted ball that gave Boyd problems.
“Mooney struck a perfect ball,” said Hayford. “It went just over Logan’s head. If Logan hadn’t come out, he might have carried it over the bar or even caught it.”
Instead, the ball hit off Boyd’s fingers and bounced off the crossbar onto the ground. A scrum for the ball ensued, and a Stratton player was able to win the ball and knock it in before Twin Valley could clear it. The game would stay tied through regulation.
Early in the overtime period, James “Jimmer” McGovern played a free kick in front of the Stratton bench. The ball sailed to the far post. Colin McHale redirected the ball toward Lucas Messing, who was in the right spot at the right time. Messing tapped in the ball for the instant win.
“That was a golden-goal victory,” said Hayford. “It was a really big win against a really good team.”
Hayford was impressed with his team’s play on a hot day, one that saw the referees call water breaks at the 20- and 60-minute marks.
“It was hot,” added Hayford. “As the game wore on in the latter stages of the match we seemed to look a little more fresh. We had more gas left in our tank than they did. It was a good performance by the lads. They showed good fitness.”
Hayford also noted his large squad of 21 players helped on the hot day by allowing for more substitution. “That was important. We looked better in the overtime than they did.”
The teams will meet again at Stratton Mountain School on Saturday, October 7, for the annual SMS homecoming game. Hayford noted that assistant coach Ryan Holton will be filling in for him on the day, as he will be out of town for personal reasons.
TV 9, FH 0
WILMINGTON- Coming off a gritty, challenging overtime match with Stratton, the Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer team cruised to a 9-0 win over Fair Haven Monday evening at Hayford Field.
Twin Valley scored early and often in the match. Freshman Colin McHale opened the scoring 11 minutes into the match. He settled a bouncing ball played by Jimmer McGovern at the 18-yard line, turned, and fired a shot through two defenders and past the dive of Fair Haven goalkeeper Liam Laramie. That goal was all the team would need to win the match, but eight more tallies followed.
“The kids played well and wore Fair Haven down,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “There was no way they were coming back. It was a mismatch.”
Twin Valley scored two more goals before the half. McGovern scored at the 13-minute mark, with an assist to Izaak Park. Less than a minute later, McHale scored again off a pass from Hayden Reed.
Hayford said he was worried about his team getting complacent because of the big early lead. “I told them at halftime, as a point of emphasis, to just keep playing their game: possess the ball, play in control, and be patient. Those are things they’ll need down the road against a better team.”
The Wildcats tallied six more times in the second half. Logan Park, McGovern, Colin McHale, and Jack McHale each scored. Freshman Finn Fisher added two goals. Both McHale brothers, Casey Sibilia, and Owen Grinold were credited with assists on the goals.
“The goals were well put together,” said Hayford. “We had a nice buildup in the midfield before the scores.”
Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn had three saves in goal for the Wildcats, but the game was mostly played in front of the Fair Haven net.
Hayford said he’s happy with how the team has developed a quarter of the way into the season. This is one of the biggest varsity soccer squads Twin Valley has fielded, with 21 players dressing for games.
“We tried some different things with moving guys around. We’re trying to develop multipurpose players to play in a variety of positions. You want to have a little bit of flexibility. We had a couple of guys injured in the Stratton game, so we want players to be comfortable in a different spot. I like the fact that we’ve got 21 guys that can be counted on.”
The 4-0 Wildcats are back in action Friday evening. They host Bellows Falls for a 6 pm match. On Monday, September 25, they will play Arlington in the first game of the annual Werner Tournament. Kickoff is 7 pm at the Lions Park in Arlington.