BRATTLEBORO -- The Wildcats scored a trio of unanswered goals during the first half of the opening period to give the No. 2 Twin Valley varsity boys soccer team a Division 4 semifinal win over No. 6 Cabot, 3-1, on Wednesday at Sawyer Field.
Nick Nilson scored two goals for the Wildcats, putting away the team’s second goal at the 26:00 mark, and his next one just seven minutes later.
Nilson went on his initial scoring run after a quick toss-in from the left side. Guiding the ball into the center, he ran into some trouble but kicked through the Cabot defense until regaining possession to dribble and bobble a wild one into the goal.
"We knew going in Cabot was going to knock the ball around," said Twin Valley coach Buddy Hayford. "I thought we played the best first half, and they played a nice second."
Nilson’s second prize was an even more impressive show of agility and awareness as he rebounded a missed header by Morrow Bernard that smacked off the Cabot crossbar, then went in for the kill at the 19:00 mark.
Colin Lozito got the Wildcat party started using his trademark style -- running hard at the ball while tripping up defenders -- to put him on the path toward his team’s first net 10 minutes in. Teammate Eli Park set him up nice, with a perfectly placed boot that landed right in front of Lozito from the other end of the field, for the assist.
Twin Valley played close to the inside of the box during corner kicks and throw-ins to take advantage of Cabot’s weak first half midfield, especially on the left side, where all three of the Wildcats’ goals got by the Huskies’ keeper.
What also helped Twin Valley was that the team won most of the rebound contests near their opponents’ goalbox to keep Cabot stuck on their end of the field.
"We were expecting them to block high," said Hayford. "So I told the guys to keep the ball down low. Cabot came back as they started to commit more players forward."
"We could have stepped up our defense," said Park. "We fell apart towards the end, but overall we did okay. Some of Cabot’s wings were faster than ours. But our forwards put the right pressure on them. Nilson’s goals early on were a big help."
Wildcat goalie Sam Molner had six saves, preventing two of those threats with diving plays in the second. Adlai Feldmen, Cabot’s goalie, had 16 saves.
"Molner worked well for us today," said Hayford. "He came up with some big saves. He will have to stay sharp for our next game."
To ease his burden, Twin Valley defenders Park and Bernard kept the Huskies out of the middle as they began their final push.
"The last 20 minutes was better for us," said Cabot player Camden Celley, who scored his team’s sole goal with three minutes remaining on the clock.
Caleb Maxfield assisted Celley, after getting a forward tap from the team’s sweeper.
"I don’t want to take anything away from Twin Valley," said Cabot coach Peter Stratman. "We would have preferred to come out here and play 80 minutes of great soccer. That doesn’t always happen. But I’m glad the guys decided to show up for the last 25 minutes. I’m proud of them. To come here and go toe-to-toe with a school three times our size is a feat, I think."
The Wildcats move on to the final round to face the winner of Proctor vs. Sharon. The final takes place in South Royalton on Saturday at 1 p.m.
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.