“It was a great match and hard fought by both teams,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “It was one we could have won, if we caught a break or the ball bounces a different way.”
In the first half, Twin Valley weathered Stowe’s attacks.
“There were periods we didn’t look overly organized in the back,” said Hayford. “We were back on our heels a little bit. They were coming at us hard. When you’ve got speed like they’ve got, they can put you back on your heels in a hurry.”
But Twin Valley was able to keep a clean sheet, clearing balls when needed and relying on goalkeeper Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn to turn away shots.
Twin Valley had its best scoring opportunity when Owen Grinold played a ball into the box that Colin McHale volleyed toward the nets. Unfortunately, his shot was hit directly at Stowe’s goalkeeper.
Dylan Howe also had a chance for a header on a corner kick, but just missed the shot. The match remained scoreless at halftime.
Coming out of the intermission, Stowe was able to strike quickly. Johnny Driscoll was able to get loose on a counterattack. He played the ball diagonally toward Jace Boerger, who was on the opposite side. The ball got behind Twin Valley’s defense and Boerger made it count. He hit a nice shot that went wide of Carpenter-O’Hearn and into the side panel.
That would be the only score of the match.
“We were close but no cigar,” said Hayford. “They had 10 shutouts, we had 11 shutouts. We knew it would be a defensive match, and something had to give. I was really happy with the way the boys accounted for themselves. Not with the result, but they played really hard, and did everything but score.”
Twin Valley finished its season with a 15-2 record. They claimed the Marble Valley League division C title, and won the annual John Werner Tournament at Arlington.
Stowe heads to the D3 championship game on Saturday in Bellows Falls, seeking the school’s sixth straight title. They will play fourth-seeded Peoples Academy, which knocked off undefeated and top-ranked Winooski on Tuesday.
TV 1, BFAF 0
WILMINGTON- It took 79 minutes and 32 seconds for the Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer team to punch their ticket to the semifinal round of the state playoffs, but in the end the Wildcats were able to come away with a close 1-0 win over Bellows Free Academy Fairfax on Saturday.
“It was playoff soccer at its best,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford.
Both teams had the potential to score early in the match. BFA had a goal waved off on an offsides call following a throw-in, and Twin Valley’s Logan Park and Colin McHale each missed good looks at the goal.
“Early on we created a lot of chances,” said Hayford. “We were just missing out on some opportunities. We moved the ball around fairly well and kept the pressure on them. We outplayed them, but had nothing to show at the half.”
BFAF was also strong on their defensive side, using a size advantage on their back line to clear balls out of the box and keep Twin Valley off the board.
Despite the opportunities for both sides, the match was scoreless at halftime.
“My message at the half was just keep doing what you’re doing,” said Hayford. “Goals will come, you’re outplaying them.”
Those goals might have come more quickly and more frequently if not for the play of BFAF goalkeeper Isaac Collins. He made a number of spectacular saves, totaling 15 on the day.
“The keeper kept them in the game, he was just unbelievable,” said Hayford. “It could easily have been three or four to nothing. He stoned a lot of our quality shots.”
BFAF had one good opportunity in the second half, when Jake Millette hit a strong left-footed shot from 25 yards out that hit the cross bar and bounced over the goal.
As the time ran up toward the 80-minute mark, both teams increased the urgency of play.
Inside the final minute of regulation, Twin Valley’s Dylan Howe placed a long throw-in into the middle of BFAF’s penalty box. Jack McHale was able to settle the ball off his chest and rip a volley that Collins couldn’t save.
But BFAF had one last trick up their sleeve. On the ensuing restart following the goal, they lined nine of their players up on the right side of the middle circle. The remaining field player kicked the ball back to Collins, who had come out of goal to the back of the circle. He hit a long, hard kick into the Twin Valley goal area, with all 10 of his teammates charging the box.
As the unusual play unfolded, a Twin Valley player was called for a hand ball just outside of the penalty box.
“It was a good call,” said Hayford. “And it was almost a disaster. Sure enough, time’s running down, we’re scrambling to set up a wall, they’re scrambling to shoot, they hit it, it hits our wall, bounces around, and finally goes out of bounds.”
Hayford credited senior defender Hayden Reed for his play in those chaotic final seconds. He had two headers in the sequence before time finally ran out.
“The guys hung in there, battled hard, and were positive,” said Hayford. “It was a heck of a high school match. It was quite a win.”