“I’m really happy with where we’re at this early in the season,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “We’re still trying out different combinations, and some players will shift around throughout the season.”
Hayford is particularly happy with the fill-in play of freshman goalie Kyle Murdock. He stepped in between the pipes after keeper Sam Molner underwent emergency appendectomy surgery the morning of the team’s opening game. Coincidentally, Molner underwent his surgery on August 30, the same date that Hayford was rushed to the hospital for the same procedure a year ago.
“Kyle stepped into goal at the last minute. We only had four hours notice,” said Hayford. “But he’s doing a fine job. He doesn’t seem to get rattled and he has a good pair of hands.”
In the opener against Bellows Falls, the two teams played to a scoreless first half, even though the more experienced Wildcats dominated the field of play.
“I was really pleased with our possession throughout the game,” said Hayford. “We were just unlucky in the first half. We had a couple of shots bounce off the bar. We created some opportunities and it seemed like only a matter of time until we would score.”
Early in the second half, Twin Valley cashed in on its opportunities.
Colin Lozito knocked in the first goal off a corner kick. He was helped out when the ball deflected off a Bellows Falls defender. A few minutes later, Lozito put in his second goal. His shot was a lofted ball from about 25 yards out which bounced off the goalkeeper’s hands and into the net. Five minutes later Tony Tarr closed out the scoring, taking a beautiful crossing ball from Lozito and driving it past the Bellows Falls keeper.
“It was a nice win to open up the season,” said Hayford. He cited the strong defensive play of sweeper Eli Park, stopper Cade Nesbitt, and back Jeremy Hunt. Hayford was also pleased with the wing play of Keegan Reed, Hank Sweeney, and Morrow Bernard.
Twin Valley 3, Proctor 1
On Tuesday, the Wildcats used a second-half surge to take control of the game, then withstood a strong rally by the Phantoms to hold on for the win.
“The first half was a feeling-out process,” said Hayford. “Nobody got into sustained rhythm, and no one had great chances to score.”
Most of the first-half play took place in the middle of the field, and appeared tentative on both sides. At halftime, the Wildcats regrouped.
“We moved some players around in the midfield area to give a little different look,” said Hayford. “We came out of halftime and put more pressure on the ball.”
That extra pressure paid off, as Twin Valley won some corners kicks and throw-ins, and ultimately took a lead in the game.
Twin Valley scored first, as Lozito hammered home a volley to the far post at the 45-minute mark. Dal Nesbitt had assist on the play. Ten minutes later Park scored off a corner kick from Lozito. The ball bounced through the goal box to a waiting Park on the back side, who drilled a shot to the near post.
Proctor rallied back late in the game. Dermit Hughes put back a rebound of his own shot. The score pulled the Phantoms within a goal.
But the Wildcats salted the game away with a quick score. Lozito led a counterattack, passed to Dal Nesbitt, who found freshman Nick Nilsen open in front of the goal.
Nilsen beat the Proctor keeper to the ball, and knocked it in for his first varsity goal.
“We marched right down the field,” said Hayford. “We came back after their goal made the game interesting.”
Murdock had eight saves in the Twin Valley goal. The Wildcats took 15 shots on the Proctor goal.
Hayford was happy with the win, and the 2-0 start to the season. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do at home,” he said.
Friday Twin Valley will host Green Mountain at 7 pm. On Wednesday they travel to Green Mountain. Kickoff is slated for 4:30 pm.