It was a hot Friday afternoon and coach Chris Walling knew the Wildcats would need to play great defense to beat the perennial Division II powerhouse. Great defense is what he got, as Mill River was kept scoreless for the first 70 minutes of regulation, while the Wildcats got on the board twice.
Senior Abbi Molner scored Twin Valley’s first goal 20 minutes and 33 seconds into the game on a direct kick from 25 yards out that flew into the top left corner of the net. This would remain the only goal by either team for the first half.
Walling knew the game wasn’t over and spent halftime reminding his players to stay competitive for the next 40 minutes. “Mill River is a team that just keeps coming at you in waves,” Walling explains, “Going in I knew we’d have to play one heck of a game.”
The Wildcats would strike again with 11 minutes left in the second half when Savannah Nesbitt’s shot was blocked by Mill River’s goalie, bounced off the crossbar, and landed at the waiting foot of Sammy Cunningham-Darrah who wasted no time putting it in for a two-score buffer.
Mill River refused to go down without a fight, scoring twice within 50 seconds at the 9-minute mark. The first strike came when Ellie Hasenour kicked one into the lower right corner of Twin Valley’s net, closing the gap to 2-1. Less than a minute later a penalty kick by Kyle Weatherhog tied the match, setting up a stressful and dramatic finish for the Twin Valley Wildcats.
After missing two chances to score in the last nine minutes, including a breakaway shot that zinged over the crossbar, the Wildcats would hash it out in overtime.
The Wildcats wanted to avoid another tie like they experienced against Leland & Gray last week, or worse, a loss. It only took two minutes and 40 seconds for the Wildcats to claim victory as Molner connected with Nesbitt on a perfect through-ball pass. As Mill River’s goalie charged the ball Nesbitt chose the lower left corner and nailed it for the victory.
Coach Walling couldn’t be happier about his team’s group effort and praised his defense again and again “They bent but they didn’t break. They did a great job containing, keeping Mill River in front of them and forced them to take tough shots and some risks.”
Twin Valley 1, Proctor 1
WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley High School girls soccer team remains unbeaten. However, another tie on Tuesday night against Proctor brought the Wildcats record to 1-0-2.
It was a defensive struggle from the first kick, and the first 15 minutes saw little action in either team’s goalie box. It wasn’t until 16:27 into the first half that Proctor’s Abby McKearin aggressively snared a rebound off a goalie block and rolled one into the lower left corner of the net. McKearin would keep Twin Valley’s defense running hard all evening, taking shots from the left wing and keeping goalie Brianna Rafus on alert.
The Wildcats had a few solid chances to score late in the first half, once on a shot by Savannah Nesbitt that sailed just over Proctor’s crossbar, and a shot by Abbi Molner that hit Proctor’s goalie in the hands.
The score remained 1-0 at the beginning of the second half, and the Wildcats’ offense returned to the field stagnant, spending more time helping their defense than shot opportunities. But the resilient defense of Hannah Swanson, Alex Kennedy, and Jessica Fox, mixed with an effort by goalie Rafus that coach Walling referred to as “eye-opening,” kept Proctor at bay and preserved a one-score deficit.
“We tend to come out of the half flat and we certainly need to change that,” explains Walling, “But we weather the storm and we settle in.”
The Wildcats would indeed settle in 14 minutes into the second half on a goal by Molner, that sailed in just out of reach of Proctor’s goalie. Twin Valley’s girls were not done scoring yet with Nesbitt kicking in a pass from the head of junior Jordan Niles, and over the hands of Proctor’s goalie.
The Wildcat team gelled well from that point on and had one more close opportunity to score when a direct kick by Molner sailed over Proctor’s goalie and just out of reach of Nesbitt in the goalie box.
Twin Valley nearly held on for the win but with one minute left, Proctor’s Brodie Langlois was able to finally break through the Wildcat defense for a goal in the lower left corner, just out of reach of Rafus’ hands, tying the game at 2-2.
Two overtimes would produce an arsenal of shots from both teams, but no goals, bringing the game to a draw.
While Walling is glad the loss column remains at zero, he sees ties as an opportunity for his team to learn. “When we get a lead we need to finish it, because we’ve had three games so far, where we’ve had a lead and failed to win two of them.” Walling also saw a point of pride in his team’s overall performance, tying a Proctor team that last year went undefeated with no ties and won a state championship.
The Wildcats take on visiting Arlington Memorial at home on Friday, September 21