“I couldn’t believe it,” said Nilsen. “I knew the seconds were winding down and I just had to lean back and chip it.”
Hollywood writers couldn’t have scripted a better ending to Twin Valley’s varsity boys’ soccer team’s victory Wednesday night as the team improved to 4-0.
It was a physical, back-and-forth match, and neither team could seem to dominate offensively in the first half. Most play was kept at mid field, with both keepers shutting down any chance for a lead. Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford was happy to see his goalie, Sam Molner, back after missing the first three games after an emergency appendectomy. “For his first game Sam was really big and he saved us several times with some really top-notch saves.”
One of those saves came with two minutes left in regulation. Leland & Gray was given a corner kick opportunity that Twin Valley struggled to clear from the goalie box. Defenders Jeremy Hunt and Eli Park both had goal-saving blocks with their feet, and one last shot from pointblank range rolled within an inch of pay dirt. Molner was able to corral the ball and preserve the tied score.
Leland & Gray’s offense dominated much of the second half, but the duo of Park and Hunt kept them in check all night, allowing few shots from outside the box.
Twin Valley had a few chances to score in the second half. Dal Nesbitt just missed on a free kick he curved around the right of Leland & Gray’s wall. Another close call came when Morrow Bernard put a pass just out of Tony Tarr’s reach on a breakaway late in the game.
“Leland & Gray is deep and fast and their Achilles’ heel was finishing goals. I think you have to attribute that to my boys who defensively are solid,” Hayford said. “In the second half they outplayed us, but I was really happy that with a thin bench we were able to get it done.” In their first four games, Twin Valley’s defense has allowed one goal.
Then there was the game winner.
Twin Valley’s offense got few breakaways the entire game, and their shots seemed to keep sailing over the net. Nesbitt, Tarr, and Nilsen kept on hammering away though, and patience paid off at the last second, literally.
Coach Hayford never lost confidence in his offense or in Nilson. “He caused problems for them throughout the night, and he can outrun just about any defender he plays, and I was hoping we would have a breakaway like that. It was in the nick of time.”
Twin Valley’s next game is Saturday at 11 am, at home against Green Mountain.