Black and Gold settle for tie in opener

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BEACON FALLS — A late-arriving observer who missed all of Woodland’s double-overtime exhilarator against Ansonia Tuesday afternoon and saw only the Hawks’ faces as they exited their postgame conference surely would have assumed they lost.

The Black and Gold’s somber expressions and slumped shoulders exhibited the body language of defeat. One player even mumbled, “This feels like a loss” on her way to the bench.

The truth is the first contest of the season ended in a 2-2 tie after 100 minutes of soccer. The sentiment is the Hawks should have been able to preserve a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes left in regulation against a team they outshot 31-7 and against whom they owned a 6-0 all-time record, entering the match.

“We just didn’t have that hunger we needed to finish the game off,” Hawks head coach Joe Fortier said. “That’s something we’ll have to work on.”

As the lopsided shot totals indicate, Woodland controlled play throughout most of the game. Its first score came with 13:39 to play in the first half, when Riley Shaw, positioned near the end line to the right of the goal, delivered a pinpoint crossing pass to Alaina Nedderman. Nedderman’s shot clanged off the right post, but she split two Charger defenders, collected her own rebound, and blasted the ball into the net for a 1-0 lead.

“[Assistant] coach [Loren] Luddy taught me how to do that,” Nedderman said. “She always tells me to follow my ball, so I hope she’s proud of me.”

The home team took the one-goal lead into the break, happy to be ahead but knowing it could have capitalized on more scoring chances.

Early in the second half, it appeared the Hawks would do just that and put the game out of reach. Ally Negaro, a captain whom Fortier said is no longer a role player, sent a centering pass to Stephanie Dumond, who buried the sphere in the top left corner to claim a 2-0 edge.

But the Chargers, accustomed to being blown out in the Woods (8-0 in 2006, 6-0 in 2007 and 3-0 last year) rallied in never-before-seen fashion. With 19:50 on the clock, Sydney Arruda was stripped in the Hawks’ zone, but a fortuitous bounce landed the ball on the foot of Shannon O’Brien, and a one-hop boot from the top of the box landed it in the goal to cut the visitors’ deficit to one. It was the first goal Ansonia ever scored against the Hawks.

Less than 10 minutes later, O’Brien struck again, this time on a David Beckham-conjuring free kick that curled over Woodland’s three-woman wall and past a diving Al ma Rizvani.

“This program has come a long way in its three years of existence,” Ansonia head coach Jerry Labriola, Jr. said. “We set our goals this season to make the state tournament and the league tournament.”

Rebecca Senetcen made 29 saves for the Chargers. Rizvani stopped five Ansonia shots. Woodland was scheduled to visit Sacred Heart Thursday and will host Naugatuck Valley League newcomer Derby Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.