With their 3-0 victory against the Otters, Twin Valley also capped an undefeated season of 14-0, and the first perfect regular season of Buddy Hayford’s 32-year coaching career. “I told the boys after the match that it hadn’t settled in my mind,” said Hayford. “I continue to think about the next game because there’s no time to gloat, but when you do pause and think about both the season and giving up one goal, I never say never, but it will never happen again.”
The Wildcats played some tough games this year, and going for the perfect record wouldn’t prove easy, playing on the Otters’ home turf and a larger field than they’re used to. The Wildcats also had to contend with Otter Valley goalie Shane Quenneville, an aggressive keeper who kept the game within reach for 73 minutes.
While the Wildcats were forced to be on their toes, striker Nick Nilsen was able to beat Quenneville to the ball in the seventh minute. Dal Nesbitt lofted a pass from midfield that took a huge bounce over Quenneville’s head as he charged out to beat Nilsen. Mis-timing the bounce, Quenneville could only watch as the ball sailed over his head and Nilsen, with a full head of steam, charged after it, easily knocking it in for the 1-0 lead. But Otter Valley’s defense stayed with the powerful Wildcat legs for another 66 minutes, forcing the Wildcats to be on edge. Sam Molner had one of his biggest challenges of the year, but was able to keep Otter Valley scoreless on their Senior Day, chasing down close calls in front of the net on multiple occasions.
The insurance goal Twin Valley needed came at the 76th minute as Cade Nesbitt found Colin Lozito on a cross into the middle. Three minutes later, Dal Nesbitt got on the board off a pass from Hank Sweeney for the 3-0 lead. Hayford said the game was a good lead-in to the playoffs. “It’s good for my guys to be involved in something tight. They put the finishing touches on a great season. I’m proud of those boys.”
Hayford also had a lot of props to give after his squad delivered him a little piece of personal history. “You have a situation where you have a defense that is extremely focused and has a lot of speed,” said Hayford. “We have a solid goalkeeper, and I think that when you take it one level deeper the main reason is we have 11 guys that are committed to defense. You can look at where it starts with Nicky (Nilsen) as striker, his responsibility is to score goals but it’s also his job to play D, and when you get 11 guys in the field committing to play defense and not just be a scoring machine, you’ll do well.”