BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys soccer team has relied on late-season surges the past two years to earn a postseason berth. This year, the Hawks are looking for a quick start to set the tone.
The Hawks started 2-3 last year before a five-game win streak that got them into the postseason. Then came a lull as the Hawks went 2-3-1 in the final six games of the regular season.
Woodland (11-7-1) got red hot in the NVL tournament and made it to the championship game before coming up short to Naugatuck.
The Hawks graduated some key players from last year’s run and the Hawks are hoping for a lot less drama this year as the season unfolds.
“We have some key returning players back and that will lead to a good start on the season,” Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho said. “Last year we were kind of small, but in the offseason our backs worked hard and actually put some size on them.”
Senior tri-captains Zach Powanda and Xavier Gibson lead the defensive unit along with goalkeeper A.J. Oliveira. Sophomore Ryan Swanson was a productive member of the defensive last year and will add to an already impressive unit.
It will be that defense that keeps the Hawks competitive until Woodland can get some offense going.
“The key will once again be our defense and we are really strong at midfield,” Moutinho said. “It just comes down to a matter of us getting the ball into the back of the net. We haven’t had a lot of success in that area lately, but our defense is able to carry the load.”
Woodland assistant coaches Izzy Oliveira and Nick Oliveira along with newcomer Kenan Collins are hard at work putting the team through its paces.
What concerns Moutinho is a finding enough offense early on to keep the Hawks within striking distance. Juniors Senol Music, Anthony Barreira and Jack LaPeiriere are options along with Christian Porier.
“We seem to be going in the right direction offensively,” Moutinho said. “We just don’t have anyone to finish. We have a good group of forwards and we are deep at midfield and that will be our strength.”
Junior Vincent Costanza along with a talented group of sophomores — Maciej Lewicki, Joshua Powanda, Tim Mendes and Jeff Varesio — will aid the cause at midfield and open up some passing lanes for the Hawks offense down the middle.
“After last season I just hope that success doesn’t go to their head,” Moutinho said. “You still need to show up on the field and win. We have the talent, it’s just a matter of finding the lanes and attacking the net.”
Woodland opens the season Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Seymour.