Cyclones enjoy senior night victory in grand style

WATERTOWN — Sparked by Aidan Reff and Riley Connell, Watertown’s boys soccer team enjoyed its senior night with a resounding win Monday.

Reff and Connell, both seniors, each scored three goals to propel the Cyclones to an 8-0 triumph over Indian River, in a nonleague game in brisk conditions at Watertown High School.

Before the game, Watertown honored its 11 seniors and then the team quickly went to work against the young Warriors, scoring four goals in each half.

“It felt really good, especially not playing soccer for a while,” Reff said. “To get back here on senior night and score three goals, it felt amazing.”

The game, with temperatures around 40 degrees, was the second contest of the season for both teams in the Fall II season.

“I think we’ve all been itching to get back out here,” Reff said. “And ever since the first practice, there’s been a lot of energy, we’ve probably had more communication then the first three years we’ve been together. And I think we’ve all just coming together a lot more this year because of COVID.”

“It’s great, for it to be like this after having the fall season taken away and just to be able to do this, this is really good for the team,” Connell said.

Reff, a senior forward, scored all three of his goals in the first half for the Cyclones (2-0). He opened the scoring in the ninth minute by tallying on a header off a feed from senior Colton Walker.

“It was a good start for us today I think,” Reff said. “We were moving the ball around well and getting out in front. I think we did really well at beating their players one-on-one pretty easily.”

After Reff struck again in the 14th minute, with Connell assisting, Connell scored an unassisted goal in the 29th minute for a 3-0 edge.

Reff capped the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 34th minutes for a 4-0 lead.

“Aidan Reff had a real nice, start, he’s our center-forward, he should be scoring, that’s his job,” Watertown coach Todd Heckman said. “And in the second half, Riley got going. Once those kids get confident, they’re pretty tough to stop.”

“Watertown is a very strong and experienced group,” Indian River coach Fred LaVancha said. “They started strong against us and with their 11 seniors, they know how to play well.”

Connell, a senior midfielder, then struck for two goals within three minutes. He generated unassisted tallies in the 47th and 50th minutes for a 6-0 lead.

“There’s a lot of talent on this Watertown team and Riley Connell is a special talent,” LaVancha said. “When they’re moving the ball and attacking, they have a lot of options.”

The Cyclones kept up the pressure as senior midfielder Carson Truesdale and sophomore forward Harmon Braddock completed the scoring.

“We had such a good performance tonight,” Connell said. “Like with the backfield, the midfield and the forwards, it was a really good team effort and I think everything just came together really nicely.”

Watertown senior goalkeeper Evan Richardson was not needed to make a save.

“Definitely, I feel like just the whole thing was like very iffy about whether we were going to be able to play or not,” Connell said. “I know a lot of guys, we’ve been playing together since like sixth grade and we’ve been dreaming about our senior season, just the fear of that being taken away was pretty scary.”

Goalie Joey Rapp finished with 11 saves for Indian River (1-1), which sports only four seniors on its roster.

The Warriors began their eight-game season Friday, blanking Carthage.

“We’re a young team and we need to learn from this,” LaVancha said. “Our goalie is a freshman and he’s played well, but we need to give him better help around him.”

The Cyclones, who opened their season with a 2-1 home win against South Jefferson on Friday, will next play April 8 at Carthage, in a match added to the schedule, also now eight games.

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