BEACON FALLS — Over the past few years teams like Crosby and Kennedy have made names for themselves as contenders in the NVL. This season, the Woodland Hawks are intent on being just that, a contender.
The Hawks went 5-15 last season armed with only one senior Becky Hale, who made All-Division and scored 183 points. Woodland returns a solid core of experience and depth with a sophomore class that scored over 100 points as freshman.
All the tools are in the shed for the Hawks to make the postseason for the first time since 2012. Head coach Jess Moffo, who is in her fifth year at the helm, and assistant coach Joe Kmetz are hard at work putting the team through the paces and the expectations are high for this year’s Hawks.
“We are looking to make some noise this year,” Moffo said. “This is the most depth we’ve had since I’ve been here. Our sophomore class gives us that kind of edge and they will play a huge role in our success.”
Woodland will be led by senior tri-captains Cameron Caswell, Jill Chicano and All-Division player Carla Piccolo, who was second on the team in scoring last year at 9.4 points per game.
“Cam and Carla are three-year starters,” Moffo said. “They have played on teams that had very little depth and experience. That has made them better players and they have proved to be leaders.
“Jill is a program player having been here for four years and has done everything asked of her. She doesn’t dominate the stat sheet but has attended every summer league game and does the dirty work of diving for balls, battling for rebounds. She has been a rock. To her it’s all about the team, and that’s why she’s a captain.”
There may not be any team in the league that is up to par with Torrington and Holy Cross, but rest assured the Hawks will not be a pushover.
Juniors Jenna Pannone and Jen Triana combined for 120 points last year. Junior Maddie Hupprich gives the Hawks a third seasoned veteran who can help Woodland be competitive.
“Jenna may not be the most talented player in the league but she certainly is the toughest,” Moffo said. “She plays with the heart of a lion and will be a big influence down low.
“Jenn has a nice shot and can body up in the paint and will make us that much stronger down the middle. Maddie will be a starter and deserves it with her hard work. She is a threat anywhere on the court and is our versatile all-around player.”
Woodland also adds junior transfer Marina Bojka from Chase to the mix. Bojka has tremendous ball handling skills and an accurate outside shot, Moffo said.
The Hawks’ key asset is strength off the bench led by sophomore Haley Andrews, who scored 44 points last season as a freshman. Sophomores Megen Sirowich, Eliza Smith and Camryn Johnson have all excelled during the offseason and return as reliable players who are eager to make their presence felt.
Woodland will continue to build on that foundation with eight freshman coming into the program. New players Stephanie Krebbs (volleyball) and Haley Wolfanger (soccer) have already showed their athleticism in the fall season and will be looking to gain some varsity minutes to shore up an already deep bench.
“We are going to be a much stronger team down the stretch,” Moffo said. “With the experience we have and the depth, we are looking to make the postseason and hopefully create a little bit of noise in the league.”
Woodland will be challenged right off the bat when they open the season Dec. 15 on the road against defending NVL champion Torrington. Woodland will then will host a valley showdown with Naugatuck on Dec. 18.