WILMINGTON — Just before fall foliage season each year in the Green Mountain State, Vermonters are able to view something equally beautiful at Hayford Field.
The Twin Valley Wildcats used its usual solid team defense and pretty passing in Thursday night's season opener to defeat visiting Windsor, 4-1, in a varsity boys soccer match.
"I thought we used some good combination plays at times. I thought we showed good touch and did a nice job of threading through passes against their high line," said Buddy Hayford, who has a Vermont-best 380 soccer coaching victories.
The hosts put 10 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes and took a 2-0 advantage to the break. Gunnar Nilsen scored unassisted at the 24:19 mark and then Logan Park beat Windsor goalie Ryan "Sauce" Saucier in a one-on-one situation three minutes later, set up by Troy Felisko.
"Come on, white, you know what time it is," screamed a member of the Twin Valley student section, as if urging the Wildcats to strike again.
They also cheered for their team's back line, which consisted of Felisko, Brett Swanson, Ethan Fox and Travis Betit. Swanson took the ball away from Windsor's Jacob Curtis, while Felisko stripped an attacking A.J. Wood and later hustled to intercept a pass intended for forward Brandon Tillman.
"Yeah, Logan!" chanted those in the student section after freshman keeper Logan Boyd snatched the ball as it bounced up high in front of the net.
He also robbed Cameron O'Brien from in close, watched Tillman's shot sail over the crossbar, and felt relieved when he found himself out of position and saw Hunter Grela's shot drift wide right.
The Wildcats treated their fans to a couple of nice passing displays in the second half. James McGovern and Skyler Boyd combined for a give and go along the left side, and Skyler Boyd later passed ahead to Nilsen who stood patiently with the ball at his feet at midfield before deciding to lead Chad Bernard down the right sideline.
Skyler Boyd would make it 3-0 when he drove a low shot inside the right post with 12:41 remaining in the contest, assisted by Jack McHale.
The YellowJackets had several chances down the stretch. Wood was denied from close range, Grela attacked on the left wing but was pick-pocketed by Felisko, and Tillman chased a long lead pass that was taken away by the Twin Valley goalie.
Windsor's Tristan Robison spoiled the shutout bid with a burial at the 6:41 mark and Nilsen would put away a pass from Park a couple minutes after that to cap the scoring.
"It's so early in the season, you just don't know what you're going to have. It's like a puzzle...we're still trying to put the pieces together. I thought we played well in spurts," stated coach Hayford. "We scored four goals. We had four pretty goals."
The 1-0 Wildcats will host Otter Valley on Thursday evening at 6.
Twin Valley roster: Coaches — Buddy Hayford, Ryan Holton, Jesse Trudeau. Players — Brett Swanson, Troy Felisko, Skyler Boyd, Chad Bernard, Ethan Fox, Travis Betit, Tommy Marchionna, Hayden Reed, Logan Park, James McGovern, Dylan Howe, Gunnar Nilsen, Jack McHale, Josh Carpenter-O'Hearn, Joe Rafus, Logan Boyd.