“We played one of our better games of the season,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “I think the moment caught up with all of them. From the get-go they were jacked up. They were very, very spirited and played with lots of energy.
The win was Twin Valley’s fifth straight title in the tournament, and sixth overall. Hayford said that record was one of the team’s motivating factors. “They didn’t want to be that team, the one to end the streak.”
As it happened, the streak was not in any real jeopardy. The Wildcats and Springfield played even in the early going, but that all changed 17 minutes into the match. Twin Valley’s Lucas Messing took a pass from Colin McHale and kicked it into the nets for the game’s first score.
The game stayed that way until halftime and Hayford complimented Springfield’s play.
“We had a very tight game the first time we played them,” he said. Twin Valley beat the Cosmos 2-0 on the road. “This was tight as well, until we knocked the first goal in.”
In the second half Twin Valley had the better of the play. The Wildcats played with a lot of energy and created lots of scoring chances. The Wildcats were up to the task, taking advantage of three of those opportunities.
Colin McHale was again involved in a scoring play. Eleven minutes into the second half, the freshman striker took a pass from older brother Jack and beat Springfield goalie Chris Gurney for the score. At the 63-minute mark, it was Jack McHale’s turn to get on the score sheet. After taking a pass from Logan Park, McHale drilled a rocket from beyond the right corner of the penalty box that Gurney had no chance to stop. Messing added a goal nine minutes later to close out the scoring.
Hayford said the difference in the game was Twin Valley’s aggressive play on both ends of the pitch.
“The pressure was relentless. The defense was swarming, it never let Springfield out from the high pressure. In this game, the key was the midfield. We controlled the midfield, which ended up giving plenty of protection to the back line.”
Hayford was also happy he could empty his bench and get younger players experience in a pressure-packed game. “We went deep on the bench. Everybody got in in the first half, and in the second half the reserves played even more. There were a lot of minutes spread around in this game. The starting crew took care of their business, which allowed me to do that.”
Goalies Logan Boyd and Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn each made two saves. Park was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
TV 7, GM 3
WILMINGTON- After winning an emotional, high-energy game on Friday, the Twin Valley Wildcats came out flat for Tuesday’s match with Green Mountain. That letdown was especially evident on the defensive end of the field, as the Chieftains raced out to a 3-1 lead midway through the first half. But Twin Valley eventually found their form and ended up with a 7-3 comeback win.
Twin Valley’s Jack McHale opened the scoring six minutes into the match. James “Jimmer” McGovern played a beautiful crossing ball to Jack McHale, who finished the play with a right-foot shot past Chieftain goalie Keegan Ewald for the opening score.
But two minutes later, Green Mountain leveled the score. They ran down a bouncing ball that got through the Wildcats’ back line and beat goalie Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn in a scramble for the ball. Ten minutes later Green Mountain wrapped a corner kick around the near post, which was left unguarded by Twin Valley, and in front of a stunned Carpenter-O’Hearn. At the 30-minute mark, Green Mountain again ran down a bouncing ball that sweeper Izaak Park misplayed on a head attempt. That led to a 3-1 Chieftain lead and quieted the Twin Valley fans on the hill.
“What do we always say about bouncing balls?” a frustrated Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford could be heard saying on the sideline. “They end up in the back of the net.”
But the Wildcats were not done, and started to battle back. Despite the defensive lapses, Twin Valley controlled most of the field in the first half, and their attacks eventually started to find their mark.
Just before halftime, Logan Park took a long throw-in from Dylan Dupuis and made a quick, shifty run between two Chieftain defenders and beat Ewald for a score. That narrowed the intermission score to 3-2 and shifted the momentum away from Green Mountain.
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half,” said Hayford. “We’ve got to win balls in the midfield in the air. There were an incredible number of balls hitting the ground, for which there is really no excuse. Somebody has to be stepping up and winning the ball in the air, not waiting. If nobody gets the ball, the ball bounces, it’s off to the races. That was probably our worst 40 minutes of the season.”
After the break, Twin Valley tightened up its defense and the offense went to work. Twelve minutes into the half, Park again broke through, taking a pass from Jack McHale and notching the tying goal. Then McHale set up his brother Colin, who spun and drilled a left-footed rocket past Ewald for the game winner. That goal came with 10 minutes left in the match, and ignited the Twin Valley offense.
The Wildcats scored three more goals down the stretch. McGovern ripped a shot from outside the 18-yard line off a Logan Park feed. Park then completed his hat trick, taking a fantastic pass from Jack McHale and basically walking the ball into the goal. Then Jack McHale closed out the scoring, taking a nifty feed from Finn Fisher and booting it home.
“Jack scored the first and last goals of the game” said Hayford. “Finn set him up nicely. We scored four goals in nine minutes and finished strong. I was impressed with how they responded in the second half. The first half was more boot ball. The second half was totally different. That started with keeping the ball down on the ground. When they start playing those beautiful through balls, look what happens. It was an offensive explosion.”
Hayford cited the play of Willie Queenie and Hayden Reed for helping to turn the game defensively, especially in the second half. “Hayden played really well. Willie was the shining star of the right side. He was hitting on all cylinders.”
The win moved the team’s record to 8-0 on the season. Twin Valley is back in action today, traveling to Otter Valley for a match that was rescheduled from earlier in the season. On Saturday, the Wildcats travel to Stratton Mountain School for a 4 pm match.