WEST RUTLAND — The West Rutland girls soccer players had their Halloween costumes on early Wednesday. Disguised as a middle-of-the-pack team, the Golden Horde went through the motions against an an inspired Twin Valley unit. The Horde found themselves trailing 1-0 at halftime.
Westside coach Deanna Rodolfy described her team’s first-half performance as “lethargic.”
The Horde took off the mask and played like the 10-1 team they now are in the second half. Kiana Grabowski knocked in three goals to lead Westside to a 4-1 victory.
Anna Cyr had the other goal for the Horde.
Tiffany Spiegel, who also played solidly in the back for the Wildcats all day, got Twin Valley on the board 14:17 before the half.
When the Horde went to the break trailing, Rodolfy met with her captains and allowed the other players some extra time to sport things out.
“They figured it out,” she said.
There was 28:55 left when Grabowski seized an opportunity. The ball was bouncing around in the box in a mass of players and Grabowski simply finished it off.
The Wildcats tried to reassert themselves but whenever they made an offensive foray, Westside goalkeeper Serena Coombs thwarted it, frequently by aggressively charging out of the goal and sliding or diving onto the ball at the edge of the box.
Grabowski’s second score came with 10:38 remaining, she placed a floater high in the cage that TV keeper Hannah Sullivan could not reach. Kiera Pipeling had the assist.
Cyr padded the lead with 6:22 remaining, Isabell Lanfear getting credit for the assist.
There were only 37 ticks on the clock when Grabowski netted her hat trick. Jenee McGee hit her corner kick well, Pipeling earned the assist by heading it to Grabowski and the junior sent it into the net.
Pipeling had strong shots all day that whistled barely wide of the goal or into the hands of Sullivan. Arianna Coombs also had a couple of strong scoring bids.
Coombs and the defense also played well, particularly Emma Sevigny whom Rodolfy felt had her best game of the season.
“We did not want o lose because we are No. 2 (in Division IV),” Grabowski said., “We were a little nervous at halftime but we picked up our game.”
There could be a couple of reasons for the stark contrast in the two halves.
One is that the Golden Horde might have come into the game looking ahead to Saturday’s mammoth contest at No. 1 and unbeaten Proctor.
“It’s a long season and we are definitely looking forward to Proctor,” Rodolfy said.
Then there is the likelihood that the Horde wore down the Iron Eleven of Twin Valley. When Jordy Trowt was injured in the first half and unable to return it meant that Twin Valley was down to 11 players.
After Grabowski finally drew the Golden Horde even, they looked like a different team.
“Getting the ball in the net definitely lifted us up,” Rodolfy said.
Twin Valley fell to 3-8-1.
The win had barely been etched in the book and the Horde already had their mind on the big showdown at Taranovich Field on Saturday between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in Division IV.
“We have got make sure we stay goal side of them,” Grabowski said of the Phantoms.
Seeds. Showdowns. Rivalries. Hey, it’s that time of year. The teams are jockeying for position with the playoff pairings set to be released Oct. 21.