Mill River 9, TV 0
Twin Valley took their first loss of the season Thursday night, a game coach Chris Walling said he was happy to have out of the way. “It’s better to get a loss this bad early in the season,” said Walling. “I told my girls let’s put it behind us but lets not forget about it entirely because we don’t ever want to go through it again.”
Even the most seasoned team would have difficulty with the visiting Minutemen. Their attack is relentless, their passing is methodical, and with a deep bench of speedsters, they’re hard to keep up with for 80 minutes. The Wildcats kept with it in the opening 15 minutes, playing a game of pinball as the Minutemen tried to work it past the legs of Twin Valley’s midfielders. Savannah Nesbitt and Sammy Cunningham-Darrah came back to support their defense and Twin Valley was able to jam any attempt at a shot.
Ella Bankert found the back of the net to break the deadlock in the 15th minute, scoring on a free kick rebound off the hands of Wildcat keeper Jessica Reilly. From then on, Mill River had the game in their control, continually working the ball into Twin Valley’s defensive zones, winning one-on-one matchups on defensive clears to the midfield, and allowing barely any offensive threats.
Haley Hull would put the Minutemen up 2-0 with 14:49 left in the first half, On the ensuing drive by Mill River, Bankert would find Rylee Nichols in front of the goal for a perfectly timed header and a 3-0 lead.
Walling had high praise for his opponents after the game. “They were outstanding. In 15 years that’s got to be one of the best, if not the best team I’ve seen. Front to back, left to right, they were skilled and fast.” Mill River was able to keep fresh legs on the field on a consistent basis, using their depth to control the pace and fill the gaps.
Each time Twin Valley cleared from the box, a Minuteman player was there to pounce on it and begin the threat again. Bankert would score on three more opportunities to lead the Minutemen with four goals on the night. “It shows where our struggles are, if anything,” said Walling. “It showed us we got to a breaking point of just sheer frustration because we could do nothing against them, so mentally had to get over that hump.”
TV 9, Bellows Falls 0
As if to make up for the nine goals that Mill River rained on them Thursday night, the Wildcats demolished the visiting Bellows Falls Terriers 9-0 Tuesday night, led by a Savannah Nesbitt hat trick.
While Twin Valley kept tight control over possession for the first half, their passing game took a good amount of time to regenerate. At first, passes just weren’t getting through to the right corner where coach Chris Walling implored his team to send them, and back and forth play between the 18s kept Bellows Falls moving. But the Wildcats began to find their groove in the offensive zone with Nesbitt, Kristen Halbur, and Caitlin Hunt all finding opportunities to score, only to see shots go wide or to the arms of Terrier goalie Alyssa DeJesus.
The Terriers had a window of opportunity at the 12th minute as Adeline Daily sent one ahead of Emily Perry, who had the Wildcats beat. Twin Valley goalie Jessica Reilly came steaming out of the box to corral the ball but as she caught it, she collided with Perry, who knocked it free. A quick Hannah Swanson came in to clear the ball.
As if the previous play was a wake-up call, the Wildcats worked the ball downfield for a score. Henriette Aas got a good pass to Nesbitt in the center who beat one defender and tapped it in to the right past a hesitant DeJesus. Six minutes later, Nesbitt’s cohort in the middle, Sammy Cunningham-Darrah, found the back of the net shooting left to right off a pass from Niles for a 2-0 lead. The Wildcats began to fill the gaps nicely, controlling clear outs close to midfield and finding methodical ways to work the ball back into the box. Even defender Jessica Fox was searching for an opportunity to score, coming up to launch a bomb just before the half that sailed into the arms of DeJesus, who fumbled the ball before picking it up.
In the second half, the Terriers tried to prove they still had some gas in the tank as Chelsea Wilder began the half with a shot that nailed the crossbar. But in the 18th minute, the Wildcats continued the scoring and allowed no more quality shots for the remaining 32 minutes.
Freshman Caitlin Hunt would provide the Wildcats with two goals in the half, and Fox would take one more stab at a right side bomb off a corner kick, this time sailing it just over DeJesus’ head for a goal. A first career goal celebration followed.
After starting the game with four shots, Niles got in on the scoring in the second half with two goals of her own. Nesbitt would score two more times in the second half as well. Nesbitt, Hunt, and Niles would all end up with an assist.
“What a turnaround,” said coach Chris Walling. “We were able to put that shellacking Mill River gave us behind us and it was nice to see Savannah get in the scoring column again, returning from the ACL injury.”