Rebels top Wildcats in playoff tune-up

TOWNSHEND — Sophomore Corey Nystrom scored two goals and Jake Sherman added another as the Leland & Gray Rebels defeated Twin Valley, 3-1, Oct. 16 in a win that avenged a bitter overtime loss to the Wildcats earlier in the season.

Sherman got the Rebels started with an unassisted score five minutes into the game on a beautiful hooking shot from about 20 yards out.

Later in the half, senior captain Billy Nupp dropped a corner kick right in front of the goal mouth. In the scrum that followed, the ball ricocheted off the bodies of a few Wildcat defenders and flew softly over the head of Wildcats goalie Sam Molner.

Nystrom pounced on the loose ball, and tapped it in for a 2-0 lead.

Twin Valley cut the lead to one when the Wildcats were awarded a penalty kick, which Wildcats senior captain Colin Lozito converted near the end of the first half.

The second half was played as intensely as the first, but goalkeeper Tanner Karg made 12 amazing saves that got the crowd on its feet.

Nystrom got an insurance goal in the waning minutes for the Rebels.

“This game was huge for us because we need to keep climbing the standings to get home field advantage in the playoffs,” said senior captain Michael Bergeron. “The win also gives our team the opportunity to take the MVL home. Overall, most of us were only thinking of the last time we played TV and getting them back for what happened.”

Bergeron said “discipline and organization” have been the keys to the success of the Rebels on defense.

“The leadership of players like Zach [Wilkins] and Bill [Nupp] has kept everything locked down for the most part,” he said. “We know our team won't make it anywhere without a strong back field so we continue to do what Coach Barton wants, because it works.”

Karg also added his praise for the Rebels' defense.

“We just get along with each other and know that we can trust each other to pick up the slack when we have to,” he said.

Although the Rebels lost the season finale to Proctor, 2-0, on Oct. 18, Leland & Gray ended the No. 2 seed in the Division III playoffs with an 11-3 record. Twin Valley also finished 11-3 and will be the No. 2 seed in the Division IV playoffs.

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