Determination drives Hawks

Woodland girls soccer captains, from left, junior Alexa Casimiro and seniors Marisa Macek and Rosalina Santos will lead the Hawks on the pitch this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

Woodland girls soccer captains, from left, junior Alexa Casimiro and seniors Marisa Macek and Rosalina Santos will lead the Hawks on the pitch this season. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — In her second season as the Woodland girls soccer coach, Cait Witham looks to take advantage of an experienced roster to fight their way out of the always competitive Naugatuck Valley League in hopes of surpassing last season’s success.

“I’m very optimistic we’ll have a good season this year because we’re returning the majority of our starters and we haven’t made the finals since, I don’t even remember, so I’m confident in our team this year,” Witham said.

The season ended for the Hawks in the quarterfinals of the Class M tournament each of past two years. With nine of the 15 girls on the team being upperclassmen, lead by junior All-Naugatuck Valley League forward Jessica Rodrigues, the girl’s team is poised to take the next step in the Class M tournament.

“I try to have them draw on the things they fell short in last season, their focus was a big one. There were games that the girls weren’t 100 percent focused on winning, and they know that if we go easy in practice and don’t take [practice] seriously then we’ll struggle down the road,” Witham said.

After sporting a 13-5-3 record overall last year, while going 7-1-1 in the conference, the girl’s team is ready to pick back up where they left off last season, with their defense allowing less than goal per game for the season. The girls will kick off the season with sophomore Jenna Pannone in the net.

The Hawks’ formidable defense took pressure off their offense, which scored more than two goals per game, led by Rodrigues. The junior found the back of the net a team-high 11 times last season.

“Jess will be a huge part of our offense this season, as will Hailey Borris, who brings a lot of excitement to our team and they work really well together on the field. So, we’re hopeful we can surpass last season’s successes,” Witham said.

Borris as a freshman last year was second on the team with eight goals, four assists and 20 points overall. She placed a lot of pressure on the opposing defenses, which had to keep their eyes on her at all times. Witham expects a lot from Borris this season and so does each of her teammates. As their coach says, the team has an “inner fire lighting their determination” in 2014

“Personally, I want to see these girls win the NVL championship this year. With a lot of hard work I really do think this year could be the year, but it will be up to them at the end of the day, and I’ll put them in the best position possible,” Withham said.

Woodland hits the road to start the season against rival Naugatuck at 6 p.m. The Hawks finished 1-1-1 in three matchups against the Greyhounds last season. The Hawks will travel to Holy Cross Sept. 11.

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