Wildcats ride second-half wave to beat Rebels, head to second round

Twin Valley recognized its senior soccer players before Friday’s match with Bellows Falls. From left are Matt Hammond, coach Buddy Hayford, Cooper Adams, Liam Wendel, and Caleb Dupuis. Photo courtesy Stacy Birch

WILMINGTON- Fifth-seeded Twin Valley hosted Leland & Gray in the playdown round of the D4 state soccer tournament.  The match came just a week after the 12th-seeded Rebels held on for a 1-0 win at their home field in Townshend. But on Wednesday, the Wildcats were determined not to be upset by the Rebels. That determination led them to a convincing 3-0 win that moves them on to the quarterfinal round of the D4 tournament.
“That was a great game you guys played tonight,” Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford told the team after the match.  “Well done, lads.”
The Wildcats pressured the Rebels from the opening whistle.  They had numerous scoring chances in the first half, but Rebel goalie Theo Kellaway was stellar between the pipes.  He turned away a number of shots, including a rocket by Wildcat midfielder Cody Magnant that seemed destined for the netting. Carson McHale, Nico Gerding, and Brayden Brown also had quality opportunities but couldn’t solve Kellaway.
The Wildcats continued to pressure the Rebels after the intermission. Less than four minutes into the half, Noah Dornburgh hit a blast on a restart that Kellaway couldn’t track down and the Wildcats led 1-0. Two minutes later, Kellaway bobbled a Gerding shot and Brown was waiting to knock the rebound  home.  
“We told them to keep pushing, the goals are going to come,” said Hayford. “We talked about it at halftime, about the garbage goals.   We had an opportunity in the first half and there was nobody there.  It was great to see Brayden right there, knocking on the doorstep. I just love those kind of goals, they’re hustle goals.”
In the 63rd minute, Caleb Dupuis hit a beautiful spinning shot from the right side that hit the corner of the goal frame and bounced in. Kellaway had no chance on the shot.
“All three goals were absolutely beautiful,” said Hayford. “Caleb’s goal, bending into the upper 90, was really nice.”
Magnant had a chance to add another score in the 70th minute with a free kick just outside the box, but his shot sailed high.
“That was a well-played game,” said Hayford. “Better than they played most of the season. I thought we applied a lot of pressure from start to finish and wore them down.”
Twin Valley (9-5-1) will travel to Marshfield Saturday for a quarterfinal match with fourth-seeded Twinfield-Cabot combined squad.  It’s a repeat of the 2021 quarterfinal match that Twinfield-Cabot won 2-0.  
“We’ve been there,” said Hayford. “The trip takes it out of you.  But if we play like this, we have an opportunity and make some noise as we go through the tournament.”
Kickoff is at noon at Twinfield Union High School.   
TV 4, BF 0
WILMINGTON- The Twin Valley Wildcats closed out the boys’ soccer regular season with a 4-0 win over Bellows Falls Friday evening.  The win was the Wildcats’ second of the season over the Terriers. It came on senior night and gave Twin Valley the number five seed in the D4 state tournament with a 8-5-1 record.
The Wildcats scored three goals in the first 16 minutes of the match. Brayden Brown scored first off a long ball from Noah Dornburgh. Cody Magnant followed with an unassisted score, carving up the Terrier defense on his way to the goal. Nico Gerding also had an unassisted goal, blasting a shot from the wing after a run up the sideline.
“We scored early,” said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. “Those were three nice first half goals.  All were legit, well-earned goals.”
The Terriers tightened up their defense in the second half, but the Wildcats were still able to extend the lead. Hunter Roth scored another unassisted goal when he got free on a breakaway up the middle and drilled a shot past BF keeper Chris Leary.
“We were only able to come up with one goal in the second half,” said Hayford. “Bellows Falls  held firm defensively, played hard, and didn’t quit.”
With the solid lead, Hayford was able to empty his bench and get everyone into the match. He added that the had good performances from just about everyone.
Wildcat goalkeeper Liam Wendel earned his fifth shutout on they season. Leary turned away 22 Twin Valley shots.
“It was a good senior night win,” said Hayford “The four seniors went out on a winning note.”  
Before the match, seniors Cooper Adams, Caleb Dupuis, Matt Hammond, and Wendel were recognized. Hammond, Adams, and Wendel have been a part of title-winning teams in 2019 and 2020.  Unfortunately for Hammond, he suffered a broken fibula in a match two weeks ago and will miss this year’s playoffs.

The Deerfield Valley News

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