by Ken Brown
DANVILLE – The Twinfield-Cabot boys’ soccer team suffered another narrow defeat to divisional power Winooski last week but bounced back with a resounding win versus Division III Oxbow to give them some momentum heading into the Division IV tournament.
Abdoul Lailati sank the Trojans for a second time in two weeks, finding the game-winner late in the first half to power the Spartans to a 1-0 road win last Monday. Lailati broke free with eight minutes left in the first half for the only score of the game, giving Winooski a ten-match unbeaten streak to close out the regular season.
Darshan Eddleman made one-stop in the loss for Twinfield-Cabot.
The Spartans are the defending Division IV state champions and will enter this year’s tournament as the second seed. They have outscored their divisional opponents 31-4 on the season, but the Trojans have given them all they could handle in a pair of 1-0 losses.
“Abdoul is a talented player and a dangerous attacker, but Sam Russell and our entire defensive unit stayed close to him all match and did a phenomenal job denying him many quality scoring chances. We had some excellent attacking sequences but couldn’t find the back of the net. It was a tight game that could’ve gone either way but sometimes soccer is a game of inches. We’ve lost some tight matches recently to top tier teams, but we feel good about our progress and the boys are starting to play some exciting soccer and improving every day,” said head coach Peter Stratman.
Sam McLane scored a goal and assisted another to help Twinfield-Cabot end the regular season on a high note with an important 3-0 home win over Oxbow on Saturday’s Senior Night.
Senior goalkeeper Dominick Hale returned to the starting lineup and Eddleman wasted no time returning to his attacker position, finding the back of the net for an early two-goal advantage.
Tej Stewart added an insurance goal early in the second half and Hale made two saves to record his fifth shutout of the season.
Dakota Goodridge made eight stops in the loss for the Olympians, as they wrapped up their regular season at 4-9-1. They will square off against fourth-seeded Woodstock in the upcoming Division III tournament.
Seniors Meles Gouge, Silas Robbins, Dominick Hale, Cooper Bernatchy, and Sam Russell were recognized for their outstanding high school careers before the match.
“The boys played a solid game under slippery conditions. We did a good job of controlling tempo and possession in the first half especially. Sam gave us an early lead off a great cross from Meles Gouge and Darshan and Tej had some nice finishes to give us some breathing room. I was proud of our defensive unit today for keeping a clean sheet. Cooper Bernatchy, Zepherin Hebert, and Sean Lehoe kept great composure in the back and Dom was vocal in net to help keep the defense focused,” said Stratman.
Obstacles have been aplenty for Stratman’s squad this fall and a pair of yellow cards to his senior midfielder Meles Gouge over the weekend will present yet another one. By rule, Gouge will miss the opening round of the Division IV playoffs and Stratman will have to come up with an alternative game plan without his leading goal scorer and two-time All-State selection.
“There was no malicious intent in Meles’ play. I’m not one to complain about officiating, but I thought it was super subjective and unfortunate that he’ll miss our next match. We will rally as a team and I think we have the potential to compete with anyone. I wouldn’t want to play us,” said Stratman.
The Trojans hit the road for a match-up with fourth-seeded Mount St. Joseph’s Academy on Tuesday in the first round of the Division IV tournament. If they pull the upset, they will face second-seeded Winooski for a third time this season on Saturday.