Twin Valley Wildcats open season with a pair of wins
by Randy Capitani
Sep 14, 2017 | 2066 views | 0 0 comments | 128 128 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Twin Valley midfielder Gunnar Nilsen, #22,  lines up a direct kick in front of Windsor’s goal during Thursday’s match.  Nilsen drove the shot home for the Wildcats’ first goal in their 3-2 win.
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WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley Middle High School boys’ varsity soccer team earned a hard-fought, come-from-behind win in its opening game, snatching a 3-2 win over Windsor on Thursday, September 7. The win wasn’t easy or pretty, as the Wildcats found themselves behind 2-0 midway through the first half.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “It was a good way to start off our season.”

Windsor’s first goal was a bit of a gift, and came a little more than three minutes into the match. It had rained earlier in the day, which made for a wet and slippery field. Twin Valley keeper Logan Boyd had a routine shot roll up to him, but the ball was slippery and squirted away from Boyd. Windsor’s Hunter Grela beat a scrambling Boyd to the loose ball and kicked it in for the easy goal and the early lead.

The speedy Grela would strike again midway through the half. He ran down a through ball that got behind the Wildcats’ defense and beat Boyd one-on-one for the second goal and the 2-0 advantage.

“The second goal was due to a lack of pressure in the midfield,” said Hayford. “Hopefully they’ll learn from those lessons and it doesn’t happen again.”

After that goal, Twin Valley tightened up its defense and began to crank up its attack. They had numerous opportunities in front of the net, but nothing found its way home.

“We had some chances earlier on, maybe on another night they find the back of the net,” said Hayford.

Then, with about three minutes left in the half, sophomore midfielder Jack McHale was tripped just outside the penalty box. The referee awarded Twin Valley a direct kick. McHale lined up for the kick, but instead ran over the ball, leaving it for Gunnar Nilsen to take the shot. The stunt worked, as Nilsen hammered home a shot that screamed past the Windsor wall and keeper.

“It was a missile,” said Hayford. “That was dangerous. Those guys didn’t know what was coming at them.”

Nilsen’s rifle shot cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead in half, and gave the Wildcats some momentum going into the break.

“At halftime, we stressed the first five minutes of the second half would be crucial,” said Hayford. “As often happens, the next goal is the big one. You don’t want to go down 3-1, you want to tie it up.”

Twin Valley’s persistence quickly paid dividends. At the 48-minute mark, Colin McHale took a crossing ball from James “Jimmer” McGovern and scored the equalizer.

“Jimmer had the ball in the right-hand corner and played a beauty across the box,” said Hayford. It was the younger McHale brother’s first career goal in the freshman’s first varsity game.

Twin Valley was able to score the game-winning goal with less than a minute to play.

Once again, the opportunity followed a Windsor foul. This time, the ball was placed near the scorer’s table at midfield. Sophomore wing Dylan Dupuis played a high-arcing ball that came down by the near post. Jack McHale jumped above the defense to head the ball into the net.

“Dylan took the free kick and put it into the box,” said Hayford. “ It was so high it nearly brought rain.”

Hayford said he thought the team had a better second half, and complimented the play of his defense and goalkeepers. Boyd manned the pipes through the first half and had one save to go with the two scores. Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn played the second half, and made three saves.

“Both had their good moments,” said Hayford.

Hayford noted that freshman back Izaak Park looked good, as did senior defender Joey Rafus. He also complimented sophomores Jack Kehoe and Eric Bolognani for their play on the defensive line.

Hayford also noted that his lineup is far from set. It was only the first game of the season, and he has a number of skilled players looking to find playing time. “It’s a new cast of characters for the most part. It’s early, we’ll keep juggling things around.”

TV 2, Springfield 0

SPRINGFIELD- The Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer team took its first road trip of the season and came home with a 2-0 over the Springfield Cosmos Tuesday afternoon.

Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford said he was pleased with the team’s effort, especially on the defensive side of the field.

“The game went well,” said Hayford. “The boys played really well and were much improved over the first game. Kudos to the team’s defensive effort, it was very, very good.”

The Wildcats would get all the scoring they needed in the first half. Logan Park scored the first goal of the game, taking a long, bouncing throw-in from Dylan Howe and heading the ball past the Springfield goalkeeper.

“Dylan’s throw-in is really a nice weapon to have,” said Hayford.

The second goal came two minutes before halftime. Colin McHale played a crossing ball from deep in the corner. Sophomore Lucas Messing was alone at the back post and headed the ball in for the score.

“Lucas was right where he was supposed to be and headed it in,” said Hayford. “It was a smart play. He knew where to be and he cashed it in.”

The Wildcats had numerous opportunities to score in the second half, but were unable to find the back of the net. However, the team defense kept the score sheet clean, and goalies Logan Boyd and Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn had only three saves each.

Aside from the scorers, Hayford cited the play of midfielders James “Jimmer” McGovern and Owen Grinold, and defensive backs Howe, Izaak Park, Willie Queenie, Joey Rafus, Eric Bolognani, and Jack Kehoe.

Hayford also complimented the play of the Cosmos, saying the team was much improved after a couple of down years for the Springfield program.

Twin Valley is back in action on Saturday. They host Stratton Mountain School at 3 pm at Hayford Field. On Monday, September 18, they host Fair Haven Union High School at 6 pm.
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