WATERBURY — The Woodland boys soccer team stood the NVL tournament on its ear.
The Hawks held on Tuesday to defeat Oxford, 1-0, in the semifinals of the tournament at Municipal Stadium. Woodland (11-6-1) will face Naugatuck (13-2-3) in the final Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury to decide the NVL championship.
For a team that graduated 14 plyers last year and entered the season inexperienced, head coach Tony Moutinho and assistant coaches Izzy Oliveira and Nick Oliveira certainly got the most out of their players.
“These kids continue to surprise me,” Moutinho said. “They keep fighting and they just don’t give in. We always seem to find a way to score late in the game no wonder I have all this white hair. To reach the NVL championship is beyond my imagination. I certainly didn’t see that coming at the beginning of the season.”
The Hawks needed another late goal Tuesday to reach the finals.
Woodland had six corners in the first half but the game remained scoreless at the break. Oxford (11-6-1) had a few breakaways but offsides and the hard-charging Xavier Gibson broke up the advances.
Finally in the 63rd minute, Senol Music found himself at the right place at the right time off a corner kick. As the ball was bounding around out in front of a pile up in the box, Music appeared and ripped a shot past Oxford keeper Mike Michaud for the only goal of the game.
“We just seem to play better in the second half,” Music said. “I saw a header come off one of my teammates and I went for it. And got my foot on it and it got by their keeper.”
The defense, led by Gibson, Isaac Weinstein, Matt Hopkinson and keeper A.J. Oliviera, did the rest.
“We have got this far on team work,” said Oliviera, who had 10 saves. “The defense out in front plays with a lot of heart. At the start of the season I knew we had a strong team but this is amazing to be playing for the NVL championship.”
The Hawks opened the tournament with a 2-0 win over Ansonia in the quarterfinals Oct. 31. Music and Jack LaPerriere scored the goals. Oliveira recorded the shutout.