Eagles fall in Werner opener

ARLINGTON -- The Eagles pushed forward into the Twin Valley box as the final minute ticked away. Sophomore forward Molly Elwell raced to the right corner flag and delivered the kick to the near post.

The ball cleared over the endline, Elwell hurried back to the flag for another kick with under 10 seconds left. Initially deflected, the Eagles' volley on the rebound appeared stuck in midair before Wildcat goalie Brianna Rafus punched it away at the final whistle.

The last-minute life-line just wasn't there this time.

A week after Arlington Memorial High School nabbed a game-winner against Twin Valley with 17 seconds to play, the Wildcats managed to hang on Thursday night to snatch a 2-1 win against the hosts in opening round of the John Werner Tournament.

"I wasn't thinking we were going to get lucky again," Arlington coach Dan Wood said. "We had our chances, we just couldn't finish. That's the story of the game, I guess."

With the result, Twin Valley (3-1-2) handed the Eagles (3-2) their first loss in five years at the Werner. Arlington won the last four titles, but the Wildcats will face Springfield at 7 p.m. Saturday night to decide the new champ.

"It doesn't take much to get the blood flowing when you play Arlington. It's always a good game," said Twin Valley coach Chris Walling. "It's always this kind of game."

In command from the start, Arlington took the lead in the 11th minute when Elwell, unmarked, latched onto a cross near the penalty spot and finished low to the left side.

The Wildcats equalized with 2:24 left in the half after Jordan Niles was brought down in the area and Savannah Nesbitt buried the ensuing penalty kick.

Amid a string of near-misses by the Eagles, Nesbitt burst forward from the back line to claim an Arlington clearance and blast home the go-ahead strike from 25 yards with 8:06 left. It was the Wildcats only true chance of the second half.

"It's just competitive with them, it always has been. It's just intense," Arlington captain s Sherman said.

Hannah Andrew made four saves for Arlington, while Rafus finished with eight for the Wildcats.


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