Hawks battle through season of adversity

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls faced a season of adversity.

“We went 11-4 and went through so many things that changed our lineup,” said Woodland head coach Kate Gavigan, who has guided the team to a 34-12 mark in her three years at the helm. “Injuries … and a whole host of problems came up, and I give credit to the girls for battling through all of that and not giving up.”

The biggest obstacle the Hawks couldn’t overcome was an injury to their No. 2 singles player Amanda Doughney. The Hawks lost a tough 4-3 match to Sacred Heart in the NVL quarterfinals, and then were upended by Rocky Hill, 7-0, in the qualifying round of the Class M tournament on Saturday.

“Losing Amanda right before the NVL tournament took its toll on us,” Gavigan said. “And playing in the states the day after the prom didn’t help either. But we had a good season, something to build on, and the younger players who came in and stepped up will help us to grow next season.”

In the end, the Hawks did have an NVL champion to crown. Senior Ally Mayne, the Hawks’ No. 1 singles player, saved her best for last and won the NVL singles title.

“That was unbelievable to have Ally win the NVL championship. We are so proud of Ally. … For years I have been meeting her at the fence to encourage her, and she would respond. She knows how to play the game,” Gavigan said. “But in the NVL championship match it was different. She had this look of determination in her eyes and she found a way to get it done. She surprised us all, but in so many ways she earned that win.”

The doubles team of seniors Angelina Padilla and Alyssa Varesio reached the semifinals on the league tournament.

“Having Angelina and Alyssa as our number one doubles for the past four years leaves some big shoes to fill next season,” Gavigan said.

Woodland will also graduate singles player Arianna Sherwood. But, the Hawks will bring back a host of players who stepped up and filled bigger roles this season.

“My volunteer assistant, Alyssa Cook, has been an extra set of eyes on the court and has helped to groom these younger players to step into varsity roles,” Gavigan said.

Juniors Morgan Stockheimer and Carly Erickson along with sophomores Rachel Poulos and Kaitlyn Crosby filled in spots and helped Woodland secure a spot in the NVL tournament.

The emergence of the sophomore doubles team of Alana Carasone and Mia Piccolo has Gavigan at ease knowing that another No. 1 doubles team is ready to take the reins.

“Alana and Mia are soccer players who worked so hard together to get better and wound up being one of the strengths of the team,” Gavigan said. “I’m very excited for next season. We have so many young players who are ready to step into varsity roles.

“I hope I can continue to push Woodland forward and make them aware of the skills needed to succeed in this sport. I’m excited about our chances for next season.”

Mayne and the doubles team of Piccolo and Carasone will be going to girls state tennis open, which starts Saturday, to give the Hawks one final hurrah on the season.