On September 21, Arlington bested the Wildcats 2-1 with 17 seconds left in the game, and according to Coach Chris Walling, his team has become tougher mentally, playing with a chip on their shoulder.
The Wildcats’ mental and physical toughness showed, as their defense blanketed Arlington’s top scorers Molly Elwell and Rayleen Sherman, allowing one first-half goal. Savannah Nesbitt would account for both Twin Valley goals, but according to Walling, Twin Valley’s entire offense worked hard to create opportunities, chip away at defenders, and make physical sacrifices to ensure the win.
Twin Valley began with sluggish play, having trouble clearing the ball from their defensive third and into midfield. Scoring began at 10:15 into the game when Molly Elwell took advantage of two miss-kicks by Twin Valley’s defense in the box, cleaning up a loose ball, and burying Arlington’s first and only goal. From that point on, Twin Valley started to gain momentum. The midfield would start to see the ball more often and found it easy to begin pressuring and attacking.
Twin Valley’s attacks would pay off with less than three minutes to go in the first half. Jordan Niles received a pass on the right wing and drove into the goalie box. Niles beat two defenders and was about to shoot when Arlington’s sweeper took her down from behind in desperation. A penalty kick was awarded, and Nesbitt did the honors, nailing the free 12-yarder. Coach Walling said that Niles’ contributions were vital. “Jordan had a great night, and made a lot of things happen. She didn’t get in the scoring column but she was everywhere for us.”
The second half saw an increase in tempo, pace, and physicality by both teams. Goalie Brianna Rafus would keep Arlington at bay with some fantastic saves while both teams missed wide on multiple occasions.
With eight minutes left, Nesbitt would strike again, settling the ball at midfield, and taking advantage of a breakaway. After beating the only defender in her path, she buried a 25-yarder in the upper-right corner to take the lead.
Preserving one-goal leads has been a weak point for the Wildcats this year, but Nesbitt went on the defensive for the last eight minutes, while defender Alex Kennedy blanketed Arlington’s Sherman for all 80 minutes. With 20 seconds left, Arlington would come close on two corner kicks, but Twin Valley held on and punched the ball out of the box each time to preserve the victory. “Our schedule is tough and they need to go and play that tough game every night,” said Walling. “We’ve talked about being physically tougher, setting a tone, and becoming mentally tough, and that was certainly evident Thursday night.”
Springfield 5, TV1
ARLINGTON-Twin Valley’s varsity girls’ soccer team was beaten from the start Saturday in the finale of the John Werner Tournament in Arlington, suffering a 5-1 loss at the hands of Springfield. Within the first 20 minutes, Springfield would score four times, essentially putting the game out of reach a quarter of the way through.
“It was not much of a contest right from the get-go,” said Twin Valley coach Chris Walling. “We weren’t moving, we were not going to the ball.”
Springfield’s Abby Cox and Chelsy McCalister would combine for all of Springfield’s goals, attacking Twin Valley’s defense all evening. “Our defense was overwhelmed because we couldn’t move in the midfield, and the next thing you knew it was seven on four in the back,” said Walling.
For Twin Valley, the absence of midfielder Savannah Nesbitt, who left Thursday’s game with a knee injury, proved a large part of the difference on both sides of the ball. “She’s pretty much everywhere, she does it all and makes a lot of things happen” explains Walling. “ (But) when someone goes down, you need to pick up the slack no matter who it is and we failed to do that Saturday night.”
Twin Valley had chances to score throughout the game, but the majority of the Wildcats’ shots were directed at, and not around Springfield’s goalie. “The ball got to them but it went to the keeper every time, and if one or two of our earlier goals had gone in, we might have had a different attitude,” said Walling.
Walling did say his Wildcats played harder and far more energetically in the second half, playing for pride. After Springfield’s Abby Cox completed her hat trick at the 56 minute mark, making it 5-0, Abbi Molner would get Twin Valley on the board just before the 58-minute mark to avoid the shutout.
After Saturday’s loss, the Wildcats are 3-2-2, and Coach Walling sees this game as a learning experience. “We have two options here. We can work harder and get better, or we can fold the tent and get beat every game with the tough schedule we have. This is a learning tool for the tough games coming up.”
The Wildcats play Thursday night at Proctor, and host Stratton at home on Saturday at 3 pm.