At the end of the match, Hayford’s hopes were fulfilled, as the Wildcats came away with a hard-fought 2-1 win.
“We knew right away it was going to be a tight game,” said Hayford. “Their goalkeeper, Colin Begnoche, is a very athletic kid, he was very good all day long.”
Twinfield put the first score on the board. Miguel Gonzalez was awarded a free kick at midfield, and he hit a high floater that fooled Twin Valley goalie Sam Molner. He was crossed up, slipped, and the ball bounced over Molner and into the net.
“It was an odd goal,” said Hayford. “It caught Sam on his shoestrings, and it might have deflected off a player’s knee.” Regardless, the goal gave Twinfield a 1-0 lead.
Twin Valley controlled the play for most of the day, and had plenty of good scoring chances. Colin Lozito missed wide on a shot, after dribbling through the Twinfield defense. Dylan Brage missed wide on a shot, and sent another over the crossbar. Begnoche also made some fine saves in goal.
“We continued to create some good chances,” said Hayford. “But as the half wore on, I said to myself ‘I’ve seen this bad movie before,’ when we dominate a team but the ball isn’t going in the goal.”
Twinfield held the 1-0 lead at the break. But Twin Valley regrouped at halftime. Hayford and assistant coach Ryan Holton told the team to keep up the pressure, not get down, and the goals would come.
Finally, Twin Valley was able to get on the board. Lozito was taken down in the penalty box in the 59th minute. He was awarded a penalty kick, and buried it in the net to tie the game at one.
“For us that was the turning point of game,” said Hayford. “The keeper went right, Colin went left, and we were back in the game.”
Twin Valley continued to pound away, but Begnoche was up to the challenge, and he repeatedly turned away Twin Valley shots.
Then, in the 73rd minute, Brage hit the game winner. The play started with center-mid Dal Nesbitt playing a nice ball to Lozito, who made a through pass to Brage. His shot was hit hard and low to the left post, and Begnoche couldn’t get it.
Twin Valley hung on down the stretch, as Twinfield put strong pressure on the Wildcats in the last five minutes, but Twin Valley was up to the challenge and came away with the first-round win.
Molner, a freshman, ended up with six saves and played well after giving up the early goal. In all, the Wildcats controlled play for much of the game. “We had the better of it,” said Hayford, “just not a lot to show for it. It was a good win. The boys played hard. I was pleased with the effort.”
Hayford said the team is dedicating the win and the rest of the season to teammate Trey Cunningham, who was severly injured in an automobile accident last week. “They want to win for Trey, and keep winning for Trey. He would have been proud of them today.”
Twin Valley will hit the road to take on third-seeded Chelsea on Saturday. Game time is 1 pm.
Proctor 1, Twin Valley 0
ARLINGTON- As unusual as it may seem, the Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer team hosted top-ranked Proctor for the season finale on the field of one of Twin Valley’s biggest rivals, Arlington Memorial High School . The Wildcats were forced to move the game due to unplayable conditions at the Twin Valley high and middle schools, and field conflicts at standby fields in Brattleboro and Bennington.
In so many ways, it was an unusual ending to what has been an unusual season. The fall soccer season began late, after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene forced a delayed start and made the TVHS field unusable. Then continual rains throughout the fall have rendered the middle school fields unplayable for much of the season, forcing Twin Valley to become a vagabond team in search of a field to play its home games on.
The game was also senior day, and the team’s upperclassmen and their families were honored in a ceremony before the game. Ricardo Pereira, Beau Doucette, Dylan Brage, Xavier Wiseman, Kody Crosier, and Trey Cunningham were all recognized for their contributions to the program. The ceremony was bittersweet, however, as Cunningham was in the hospital recovering from injuries he received in an automobile accident and was unable to attend. Crosier has missed most of the season due to a knee injury.
Then the Wildcats finally took to the field for the match. They turned in a spirited game, but ultimately lost 1-0 to visiting Proctor. It was a competitive game, and Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford was upbeat despite the defeat.
“We went out and played a spirited game,” said Hayford. “I’m never happy with a loss, but it was a good loss, if there is such a thing.”
Hayford was very happy with the team’s overall play against the powerful Phantoms, who had suffered only one loss coming into the game. Earlier in the season, Proctor handily defeated Twin Valley 6-1.
“We’re a different team now,” said Hayford, “and we had a much different result this time. The game was much closer, we hung around to the bitter end and gave ourselves a chance.” Twin Valley had few good scoring chances in the game. Colin Lozito hit a shot that sailed high over the crossbar. Wiseman had a chance in front of the net, but couldn’t get a good shot off. Brage was able to get his head on a long free kick that was played into the box, but again the shot just missed.
Proctor made the most of its opportunities, capitalizing on a defensive mistake to notch the only tally of the game. Twin Valley defenders misplayed a ball at the midfield and it ended up on the foot of Proctor’s top scorer, Ricky Carroll. He buried the shot past TV goalie Sam Molner, and that was all the scoring.
“He should have never gotten anywhere near the box,” said Hayford of Carroll’s goal. “We made a mistake. Come playoffs, you make a mistake and it can kill you. We can’t make any more or we’re done.”
The Wildcats finished the season 6-7-1, and secured the sixth- place seed for the tournament. “Proctor’s a good team,” said Hayford. “They’re number one for a reason. We put a scare in them on Friday.”