“Oxbow came to play,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “They played with a lot of energy, lots of spunk, for sure. I thought we had just enough to pull off the win and survive and advance.”
Oxbow started strong on the defensive end, knowing they had to keep the high-powered Twin Valley offense in check. They packed five and six defenders around the penalty box, and goalkeeper Orin Mahikoa was up to the task as well. He turned away 18 Twin Valley shots, including a rifled ball from Wildcat wing Dylan Dupuis that bounced off Mahikoa’s gloves, clanged off the far post, and back into play.
But eventually Twin Valley’s relentless attacks wore down the Oxbow defense.
Thirty minutes into the first half, freshman striker Colin McHale took a ball outside the penalty box, juked past a number of defenders, and drilled a left-footed shot past Mahikoa for the first score of the match.
“I felt as though it was just a matter of time,” said Hayford. “Colin basically just dribbled through four guys and the keeper had no chance.”
Three minutes later, senior James “Jimmer” McGovern doubled the score, taking a feed from Finn Fisher just past midfield and dribbling through some open space. Just outside the penalty box he rocketed a shot low and to Mahikoa’s left for the goal.
The score would remain 2-0 at halftime, thanks in large part to the play of Twin Valley goalkeeper Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn. He was able to turn away a serious challenge from Oxbow just before the intermission, pushing a bouncing ball outside of the goalie box and away from any chance of finding the net.
In the second half, Twin Valley kept the pressure on Oxbow, but didn’t break through until the 75th minute of the match.
Casey Sibilia took a ball off the Wildcats’ end line, pushed it upfield and played it to Jack McHale, who then found brother Colin open in the center of the field. The freshman finished the shot on goal and gave Twin Valley a bigger cushion with the 3-0 lead.
Colin McHale’s two goals gave him 14 for the season, breaking a freshman scoring record set by Nick Nilsen in 2012.
“Colin hadn’t scored in three games and had been tied with Nick for most goals by a freshman with 12,” said Hayford. “Colin scored two yesterday and now he can lay claim to that title.”
Hayford said he was pleased with the win, even if it wasn’t the Wildcats’ best effort. Oxbow came into the match as the 14th seed, with a 1-13 record. “ The games get more difficult as you move on. It will have to be a better outing on Saturday in order to move on to a semifinal game. We’re going to need to play with a whole lot more energy. It was sporadic at times last night.”
The Wildcats improved to 14-1 on the season. They will host Bellows Free Academy Fairfax on Saturday. Game time is at 1 pm at Hayford Field. BFA Fairfax comes into the match as the sixth seed in D3 with a 10-4-1 record.
TV 4, Arlington 0
WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer team closed out the regular season in style Friday night, dominating a strong Arlington squad 4-0.
“We just played terrific,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “Everybody played really, really well.”
Twin Valley had barely escaped its last match with Arlington, a 1-0 overtime win in the opening round of the John Werner Tournament at the Eagles’ home field. This time, the Wildcats took control of the match early. Despite the early energy and some strong attacks, it wasn’t until the 36th minute that Twin Valley was able to push home a score.
As has often been the case this year, it was the McHale brothers teaming up to score. Freshman Colin sent a nice cross from the left side into the penalty box, where sophomore Jack settled the ball on his foot, dribbled by a few defenders, and beat Arlington goalkeeper Bailey Cross.
“He just outworked the defense,” said Hayford of McHale’s score.
Two minutes later, James “Jimmer” McGovern added a second goal. He was able to knock a loose ball into the goal box that Cross wasn’t able to get his hands on.
“Jimmer just stuck with it,” said Hayford. “The keeper battled for it, but he just wasn’t able to grab it.”
Twin Valley took the 2-0 lead into the intermission. The score would stay that way until there were 10 minutes left in the match.
Sophomore wing Dylan Dupuis took a perfect through ball from Jack McHale and hit a low liner to the far post, out of the reach of Cross, and into the back of the net.
“He couldn’t have hit it any better,” said Hayford. “It was a nice looking goal.”
McGovern closed out the scoring three minutes later, taking a return pass from Dupuis and blasting a shot through the goalie’s legs for a five-hole score.
Hayford said he was happy with the team’s defense throughout the match. Wildcat goalie Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn was credited with three saves. Cross had 11 for the Eagles.
“Arlington’s a tough team. Over there it took overtime to beat them,” said Hayford. “I didn’t have to do much motivation, being it was senior night. They were all jacked up to play right from the get-go. They played with lots of energy and gave a strong effort.”
Prior to the match, seven senior players were honored, James McGovern, Josh Carpenter-O’Hearn, Logan Park, Joey Rafus, Hayden Reed, Cooper Pell, and Paul Johnson.
The Wildcats closed the regular season at 13-1, good for third place in the statewide D3 standings.