Rebels, Wildcats go to overtime again, Twin Valley advances in playoffs
TOWNSHEND - Twin Valley boys’ varsity soccer coach Buddy Hayford hasn’t had a losing season since 1983. On Friday, his current team guaranteed another winning season will be in the record books for Vermont’s winningest high school soccer coach with a nail-biting 4-3 overtime win over host Leland & Gray.
“It was an awesome come from behind victory,” said Hayford after the match. “That’s been one of the traits of this team, they never give up. They’ve fought right to the end, even in games knowing they’re not going to win. Those kind of experiences came to fruition on Friday. They were rewarded with a victory because they decided they were going to keep battling.”
Twin Valley got out to an early lead when Luke Rizio clanged a shot off the left post that Rebel goalie Hunter Fillion couldn’t get to. The Wildcats continued to pound away at the Rebel defense and Fillion, but couldn’t net another first-half score. Rizio, Aidin Joyce, Matt Hammond, and Carson McHale each had chances. Cody Magnant hit a blast from just outside the penalty box that Fillion was able to get his gloves on.
After the intermission, Leland & Gray came out like a different team. Early in the half, Twin Valley’s defense was unable to get a clear to the sideline. Instead, the ball was played through the middle of the box, and the Rebels’ Jordan Persson made them pay for the mistake. He got his foot on the ball, juked a Twin Valley defender, and beat goalie Liam Wendell for the score.
That goal not only knotted the score, it also ignited the Rebels. Persson scored again on a breakaway, then Trent Pagach scored on a nice shot from Wendell’s left. The hosts were up 3-1 and all of the momentum was going their way. It looked like the home team would have a big win on their senior day.
But, as Hayford noted, the Wildcats continued to fight. With time winding down, McHale was tripped inside the Rebels’ penalty box. Joyce converted the penalty kick, and the score was 3-2 with 10 minutes left in the match.
“That gave us some life,” said Hayford.
The Rebels had a chance to stick a fork in the Wildcats with a wide-open shot, but it hit the upright and bounced out.
That missed shot was a big momentum swing, and the Wildcats continued to push for the equalizer. With less than three minutes left, Rizio hit a corner kick that Magnant was able to push in front of the goal. Noah Dornburg was there to tap it home and just like that, the score was tied.
“We pushed Noah, Luke, and Cody forward,” said Hayford. “We went with only three in the back. It paid off with Noah’s goal on a nice cross.”
In the first overtime, McHale and Magnant both had opportunities to end the match but couldn’t convert. Finally, as the light grew dim and the clock wound into the 93rd minute of the match, Rizio hit an in-swinging corner that Fillion and the Rebels defense couldn’t clear. The shot spun in and the Wildcats celebrated the win.
The win gave Twin Valley an 8-6 record and a fifth-place seed in the D4 playoffs. The Rebels finished their season 3-11, including a 1-0 overtime win over the Wildcats in September at Hayford Field. They were seeded 11th in the D3 playoffs. They went to Hazen on Tuesday and lost 7-1. Hayford, for his part, was happy with the win and the season. “This team has a lot of youth, lots of inexperience. I give them a lot of credit.”
TV 5, Danville 1
WILMINGTON - The Twin Valley Wildcats won their first round playoff match Wednesday evening at Hayford Field, putting away Danville 5-1.
Twin Valley wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as striker Caleb Dupuis found the back of the net four minutes into the match. Dupuis added two more goals on the night, picking up the hat trick 28 seconds into the second half. Aidin Joyce and Luke Rizio also scored second half goals.
“I thought we put them under pressure the whole night long,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “I don’t think we were as sharp as we could be, though. We hadn’t practiced since Friday’s match at Leland & Gray.”
Hayford also said he’d like to see more consistency from the Wildcats. “I thought we were a little soft at times tonight, going to the ball.”
Danville’s lone goal came when Nicco Siani scored with eight seconds left in the second half.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats (9-5) will travel to Twinfield High School Friday to take on the fourth-seeded Trojans. Game time is 3 pm.