by Ken Brown
RICHFORD – The Twinfield-Cabot boys’ soccer team bounced back from a disappointing loss to Richford earlier in the week with a pair of dominating wins over crosstown rival Danville, improving to 3-4 on the season.
Carter Blaney scored two goals and assisted on two others to lead Richford to an impressive 5-1 home win over the Trojans. Senior Dominick Hale was issued a red card for a hand ball midway through the first half and Twinfield-Cabot couldn’t push back the Rockets surge, allowing all five goals in the first 40 minutes. Miguel Gonzalez tallied a goal and an assist, Jerrick Jacobs converted a penalty kick, and Isaiah Rider rounded out the scoring for the home team. Meles Gouge’s penalty kick in the second half was the only scoring punch the shorthanded Trojans could muster. Freshman Oliver Searles made five saves in his varsity debut for Twinfield-Cabot. Oliver Pike was spectacular in net for the Rockets, making 20 stops as they improved to 4-3.
“Dom started on defense for us in the field instead of the goal and instinctively saved a ball in play with his hands. It was just a lapse of focus, an automatic red card, and we struggled in the first half. I thought the boys played better after the break and did a good job upping the tempo, but we had trouble creating quality scoring chances. Richford did a nice job defending in the final third,” said head coach Peter Stratman.
The Trojans bounced back in a big way with a 6-0 win over Danville on Thursday and completed the sweep with an 8-0 romping on Saturday afternoon. It was the final regular season match in the rivalry between the three schools, as they will merge next fall into CCSU. Sophomore Tej Stewart scored his first two goals of the season in Thursday’s win and fellow sophomore Darshan Eddleman added two scores of his own in the win. Hale made one save to preserve the shutout for the Trojans. Josh Peterson made eight stops for the Bears. Eddleman and senior All-Stater Meles Gouge combined for four more scores in Saturday’s win. Eli Russell also found the back of the net twice and recorded an assist for Twinfield-Cabot.
“We’ve had trouble starting matches slow recently and getting ourselves into the game. The boys were focused on pressing early and keeping the tempo up. We had a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half and Danville did a good job holding us off. They’re a young team with lots of promise and their sophomore keeper was phenomenal, making several impressive saves. Overall, it was a solid team win,” said Stratman.
It’s been a strange season full of obstacles from the start for Stratman’s squad, who have won 22 matches the past two seasons and remain divisional contenders despite a 3-4 record. Historic summer floods washed away both competitive fields in both Plainfield and Cabot, leaving the Trojans displaced from the jump. Three of their four losses have come to recent Division III champs Peoples Academy and Enosburg, but the loss to Richford makes it difficult for observers and Stratman himself to truly gage where this talented team truly stacks up in 2023.
“We’ve had a tough start to the season after cruising to an opening win over Lyndon. In many of these matches it’s felt like we haven’t started playing until the second half. A string of injuries to starters has made it difficult to play a consistent lineup and left us still searching for chemistry. Ultimately, we’ve made too many mistakes, conceded too many goals, and just need to play better. It was nice to get a couple confidence building wins this week. We made several tactical adjustments and it feels like they’re beginning to bear fruit. It makes us much better in transition and has created more scoring opportunities. We have formidable opponents on the horizon, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the team responds as we move through the back half of the schedule,” said Stratman.
The Trojans were back on the road Monday for a clash with Division III Oxbow. They travel to Winooski on Wednesday and will play Blue Mountain on Friday at Danville.