The Twin Valley boys’ soccer team rolled through an undefeated season to establish themselves once again as the team to beat in Division IV.
On a sunny, blustery quarterfinal match on Friday afternoon at Baker Field, the Wildcats made it 15 consecutive wins with a 5-0 victory over the eighth-seeded Arlington Eagles.
Twin Valley got a bye to the quarterfinal round, while Arlington had to play a first-round match against No. 9 Craftsbury, which the Eagles won, 7-0.
Sporting pink headbands and wild haircuts, the Wildcats dominated from start to finish. There were no signs of rust as Keegan Reed scored on a header just 90 seconds into the match; Nik Nielsen added another goal 10 minutes later.
From that point, the only suspense was over how many goals the Wildcats would score on their way to victory.
Colin Lozito followed Reed’s and Keegan’s efforts by scoring a pair of goals near the end of the first half. The first came off a run along the end line as Lozito tucked the ball behind Arlington goalkeeper DJ Jennings behind the far post. The second came off a 25-yard direct kick, which whistled into the corner of the net.
“Coach [Buddy Hayford] emphasized scoring early, to let them know it wasn’t going to be an easy game,” said Lozito. “The wind made it tricky.”
Dal Nesbitt added the final goal early in the second half. He had a scare in the first half when he crashed into Jennings while making one of his many runs to the Eagles goal. Nesbitt escaped serious injury, though his shoulder slammed into Jenning’s jaw, sending him off the field with a concussion.
The customary west wind on Baker Field certainly helped the Wildcats in the first half, which is why, on winning the coin toss, they elected to play the first 40 minutes with a 20 miles per hour breeze at their backs.
“Arlington is a capable team, but scoring right away gave us the advantage,” said Hayford. “It took some of the edge off.”
Twin Valley’s defense did its job flawlessly: Goalkeeper Sam Molner needed to make just one save all day, as defenders Eli Park and D.J. Lazelle shut down nearly every Arlington attempt to score.
The semifinal foe for the Wildcats is No. 4 Cabot, which outlasted No. 5 Danville, 2-1, in overtime last Friday. That game was scheduled to be played Oct. 29 at Baker Field. The winner will advance to the championship game this Saturday at Whitcomb High School in Bethel.
• Bellows Falls was the other local team to earn a No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and the Terriers got a bye into the Division III quarterfinals. Their foe in Saturday’s match in Westminster was surprising: No. 9 Missisquoi, a team that earned its only win of the season by knocking off No. 8 Montpelier, 3-1, in the first round.
Stung by the memory of last year’s quarterfinal upset by North Country, the Terriers were not about to permit another: In their most dominating game of the season, BF crushed the Thunderbirds, 9-0, to reach the semifinals for the first time since 2006.
Mariah Barnett had four goals; Sarah Wells and Cassidy Santori each added two more; and Molly Dufault also scored as the Terriers stayed on the attack for virtually the entire game. Only a strong performance by Missisquoi goalie Veronica Cook-Kilburn, who made 12 saves in net, kept the score from reaching double digits early on.
Missisquoi won the state championship last year, but saw nearly all of that team graduate. As a result, the Thunderbirds went winless through the regular season as a young and inexperienced team took its lumps.
Barnett got her first goal just 68 seconds into the game, while Santori got her first score at 7:16. Barnett scored again in the 18th minute and Wells got her first 10 minutes later for a 4-0 halftime lead.
The second half was for entertainment purposes only as BF scored five goals over 20 minutes. After the sixth BF goal, the officials let the game clock keep running after a score to speed up the finish of a very lopsided match.
BF goalie Shea Wilkinson enjoyed an easy afternoon, facing only one shot. The Terriers had a 10-1 advantage in penalty corners and put 20 shots on Cook-Kilburn.
“Our team was absolutely on today,” said BF coach Bethany Coursen. “The forward line’s passing was great, and our defense was just as good. We worked so hard this year to get to this point, but we have more work to do.”
Now 13-1-1, the Terriers were scheduled to face fifth-seeded Lyndon on Oct. 29 in the semifinals at the University of Vermont. The winner plays for the state title on Saturday at UVM.
• Leland & Gray coach Lucas Bates was prophetic when he said after an overtime loss to Twin Valley in the season finale on Oct. 18 that he believed his team was capable of pulling off an upset in the first round of the Division III playoffs.
The No. 11 Rebels did just that with a 4-3 upset win over No. 6 Oxbow in Bradford on Oct. 22. Stevie Roberts, Ashley Bates, and Giannina Gaspero-Beckstrom all scored in the first half, but Oxbow rallied with second-half goals from Corina Oakley, Heather White, and Mikayla Hodge. Gaspero-Beckstrom got the game winner late in the action.
But the Rebels next foe was third-seeded Thetford, and they took care of business with a 5-2 win over the Rebels in a quarterfinal match last Friday. Michaela Pomeroy scored three goals for Thetford, with two in the second half, and Regan Covey and Shyann Josler also scored.
Bates and Haley Buffum were the goal scorers for the Rebels; Gaspero-Beckstrom was credited with an assist. Leland & Gray finished up the season with a 6-10 record.
• Savannah Nesbitt scored all three goals in No. 6 Twin Valley’s 3-0 win over No. 11 South Royalton in the opening round of the Division IV playoffs at Baker Field on Oct. 23. Nesbitt got her first two tallies in the opening 10 minutes, and scored off a penalty kick early in the second half to complete her hat trick.
This first playoff win for the Wildcats since 2007 earned them a quarterfinal date last Saturday at No. 3 Proctor, where they got clobbered by the Phantoms, 6-0. McKenzie Hickey scored three goals for Proctor, which broke open a close game with four goals in the second half. Twin Valley finished with a 9-7 record.
• Brattleboro squeaked into the Division I playoffs, and as the No. 16 seed, their reward was a bus ride to Hinesburg on Oct. 23 to face the defending state champions: the undefeated Champlain Valley Redhawks.
The Colonels did their best to keep up, but fell 4-0. The Redhawks led 1-0 at the half, and put the game out of reach with three more goals in the second half. They got off 45 total shots, and Brattleboro goalkeeper Aimee Johnston finished with 23 saves. Brattleboro finished with a 3-9-3 record.
• The three other local boys soccer teams all were held scoreless in their respective first round game losses on Oct. 22.
• In Division I, No. 12 Brattleboro got blitzed by No. 5 Mount Mansfield in an 8-0 rout. Colonels goalkeeper Ben Janis made 16 saves, but Brad Adair and Sean Springer (two assists) each scored twice for the Cougars,while Jeff Estes, Tinga Adiang, Will Dunkley and Jack Colelli also scored.
The Colonels finished with a 5-9-1 record, but the good news is that the junior varsity team — which finished its season with an all-time best 12-2-1 record — stands ready to replenish the ranks.
• In Division II, No. 16 Bellows Falls met with a similar fate as the Colonels. No. 1 Mount Abraham skunked the Terriers, 9-0. Luke Calzini had three goals and an assist, while Ira Fisher added two goals and an assist. Ethan White also scored twice, and Turner Brett and Theo Weaver had one goal each. Avery Perry and Simon Bupp-Chickering combined to make 12 saves for the 4-8-3 Terriers.
• And in Division III, No. 12 Leland & Gray was shut out by No. 5 Rivendell, 3-0. The Rebels finished with a 5-9-1 record.
• The Brattleboro boys and girls teams both finished 11th in the Division I state meet at Thetford Academy last Saturday, while the Bellows Falls boys finished third in Division III.
Ryan Gilligan (40th), Dan Burdo (70th), Tyler Clement (72nd), Oiver Pomazi (77th), and Jon Burdo (78th) were the top five finishers for the Brattleboro boys in their meet, which South Burlington won.
The Brattleboro girls were led by Nevada Powers, who placed 19th in 21:28. Catey Yost (54th), Eve Pomazi (81st), Dana Alexa (82nd), and Katie Reynolds (86th) rounded out the Colonels’ top five. Champlain Valley was the over all winner.
BF was led by Willie Moore, who finished 10th. Timothy Jones (21st), Jonah Bolotin (22nd), Jackson Purdy (28th), and Jacob Metcalfe (63rd) completed the Terriers’ top five. BF’s Lucy Lawlor and Chapin Reis wound up 32nd and 38th, respectively, in the girls’ race.
• Bellows Falls had a chance to clinch a home playoff berth with a victory over Lyndon last Saturday, but fell short in a hard-luck 26-21 loss to the Vikings at Hadley Field.
Quarterback James Shufelt ran for 115 yards and four touchdowns to help the Vikings clinch the top seed in the Division II football playoffs. Josh Guyer ran for 103 yards on 11 carries for Lyndon, who finished the regular season at 7-0 and will host No. 4 Fair Haven in the quarterfinals.
Ethan Illingworth threw for 101 yards (6-for-14) and one touchdown for Bellows Falls, which fell to No. 3 and will take on second-seeded Rice in South Burlington this Saturday at 1 p.m. Austin Stack and Kyle O’Rourke each scored a touchdown for the Terriers, while David Dunbar had a touchdown catch.
• Brattleboro closed out its season last Friday with a 27-20 loss to Colchester at Natowich Field.
Dakota Navari caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from J.P. Olson with a minute left in the third quarter to complete a comeback victory for Colchester. Navari also had a 45-yard touchdown run, and Will Ward and Erik Lagerquist found the end zone with touchdown runs.
The Colonels had a decent running attack as Michael Rooney (39 yards), Kassidi Ramirez (61 yards), Colby McGinn (53 yards), Jack Ochukpue (31 yards), Kyle Patno (51 yards), and Kyle Shippee (53 yards) shared the running load in the triple option offense of coach John Callahan.
Brattleboro finished with a 2-7 record; the only victories came against Bellows Falls and Mount Anthony.
Ski-Skate & Snowboard Sale on Nov. 2
• The Phil Dunham Ski-Skate & Snowboard Sale, directed by the Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department and the Brattleboro Outing Club, is Saturday, Nov. 2, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Gibson-Aiken Center, 207 Main St.
Those interested in selling or buying snowboards, skis, ski boots, poles, and bindings (both downhill and cross-country), skates, all winter sports clothing and hockey equipment should bring them to the Gibson-Aiken Center on Friday, Nov. 1, between noon and 7 p.m.
Any winter sport article can be listed for sale, but only 20 items per person will be accepted.
Equipment brought in for the Ski-Skate & Snowboard Sale will be checked for DIN numbers: a standard for the release forces for bindings. Sports shops might not service items lacking DIN numbers, and equipment lacking them will be marked with a red dot on the price tag.
For more information, call the Recreation and Parks Department at 802-254-5808.
Think safety on the hunt
• Bow hunting season for deer has just wrapped up in Vermont, and rifle season begins Nov. 16. There were no hunting-related shootings in Vermont in 2012, the first time that’s happened. Can 2013 repeat? Only if hunters, and others who use the woods, think “safety.”
The U.S. Forest Service, which oversees the Green Mountain National Forest, offers these safety tips for hunters:
Check weather reports before visiting the forest; dress properly and prepare for the worst possible conditions; tell someone where you’re hunting and when you’ll return; wear blaze orange and try to be visible from all directions; check hunting equipment before and after each outing, and maintain it properly; and have a first aid kit, flashlight, cell phone, and food and water in case of an emergency.
Most importantly, clearly identify your target before shooting. Fire only at clearly identified wildlife and know what is beyond your target, especially when hunting near developed areas and trails.
For more information on Vermont hunting regulations, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.