Four different Wildcats found the back of the net, with Savannah Nesbitt, Hannah Swanson, and Jordan Niles all scoring in the first half. Nesbitt scored 2:29 in, on a pass from Caitlin Hunt, while Swanson scored on a direct kick 18 minutes later. Niles added to the lead with a goal four minutes later, on an assist from Nesbitt.
The Terriers got on the board before the half as well, as Lydia Pedigo nailed a penalty shot in the 35th minute, to make the score a manageable 3-1 deficit for Bellows Falls. But the Wildcat defense would say otherwise, dominating the Terriers in the second half, while Hunt added an unassisted goal in the 53rd minute and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah provided a pass for Nesbitt to score on with three minutes to go.
“We got off on the right foot with a fast start,” said coach Chris Walling. “The key was to not let them hang around and we did that in the first half, got some distance, and the game was never really in doubt.”
Stratton 3, TV 1
Playing with a short turnaround at 1 pm the next day, the Wildcats were unable to keep up with Stratton down the stretch in their Homecoming Day rematch, taking a 3-1 loss.
Coach Chris Walling said that games against Stratton are always tough, and Saturday’s showdown was no exception. Both teams came out strong, playing tough defense between the 18s.
Savannah Nesbitt broke the stalemate in the 25th minute, finding herself on the receiving end of a huge cross pass from Karlee Walkowiak, nailing a shot for the 1-0 lead. The game was playing out just like the last match between the two teams, with Twin Valley maintaining a 1-0 lead going into the second half. But this time it would end much differently as Stratton’s legs took advantage of a tuckered-out group of Wildcats.
Twin Valley found it difficult to mark up in the middle in the second half, and Stratton’s wings were able to blow by the Wildcat midfielders to create shooting opportunities with cross passes. Michelle Dreimann got on the board at the 54-minute mark, and Lulu Shaffer added two goals within 30 seconds, scoring at 66:30 and the 67th minute to put the game away.
“It was a testament of having two games in two days,” said Walling. “We played very well for 60 minutes but we just ran out of gas at the end and got run over.”
Black River 5, TV 2
Playing their third game in five days, the Wildcats showdown with the 12-0 Presidents presented some good signs, but ended up playing out just like the last time the two teams met. Earlier, four games into the season , the Wildcats gave up four goals in the first 26 minutes of play. This time around they held on, but gave up three second-half goals in 10 minutes.
For the first 40 minutes of play, Twin Valley had control of the game. Midfielders Karlee Walkowiak, Kirsten Halbur, Natalie Herrick, and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah kept stuffing Black River’s speedsters, while the ‘Cats defensive backs forced the Presidents into limited, bad-angled shots. Black River couldn’t even seem to get a goal kick past the first level, and the Wildcats just out-hustled them at every turn.
Abigail Schmidt, Sarah Rumrill, and Morgan Kathon would all come close on shots for the Presidents, but Twin Valley would go into the half with a 1-0 lead, scoring six minutes into the match. Jordan Niles streaked down the right side of the field and connected on a pass to Savannah Nesbitt in the middle. Nesbitt squeezed a shot past Elisa Eliasson for the lead.
But just as the ‘Cats dominated the first half, the Presidents took over the second, scoring three out of four of their goals on corner kicks.
Fourteen minutes into the half, Rumrill got her first goal, booting a corner kick in off Twin Valley defender Haley Howe’s head, and a second corner kick goal 50 seconds later to put her team up 2-1. Twin Valley would respond on a goal by Nesbitt nine minutes later, as Caitlin Hunt worked a pass into a crowded box to the right side that Nesbitt knocked in out of the air, just before Eliasson could reach it.
With the game once again a toss up, Twin Valley began to lose steam, as well as the possession game. Kathan was continually able to work her way into Twin Valley’s defensive third, using her speed to get behind the Wildcats’ midfielders, which made for a lot of scoring opportunities.
Kathon would get on the board in the 67th minute, while Kateri Collins would score next on a corner kick four minutes later. Kathon finished the day off for Black River with a rebound goal off a drop by Twin Valley goalie Jessica Reilly.
“We were feeling good all game long, it was just the last 13 minutes where the wheels fell off the wagon,” said Walling. “I’ve told them that all our games will be won and lost in the midfield, and they did a great job of marking up and not allowing them to roam free. Overall I was pleased with our effort and poise, and they showed me they can compete and work against a tough team if we can meet them again.”
The Wildcats will conclude their season by taking their 7-6 record to Leland & Gray Friday afternoon at 4 pm.