WOLCOTT — The Woodland boys may have been edged out of Naugatuck Valley League tournament contention on Thursday evening, but the girls’ squad (8-6-2 in the regular season) fared better and qualified.
They faced Torrington (10-5-1) in round one, and the two squared off on the turf at Wolcott High School on a blustery Halloween afternoon, just before the rain clouds broke.
But the Red Raiders proved too much for the Hawks to handle as they pummeled the girls’ squad, tallying five goals over eighty minutes.
Woodland’s Riley Shaw answered with a goal of her own, but the Hawks were limited to that one as the Torrington defense shut down dozens of strong attempts.
Torrington’s Rebecca Melaragno scored twice early, in the seventh and twelfth minutes.
Shaw’s goal came in the 24th, but as the Red Raiders played an aggressive ball to goal in response, starting Woodland keeper Alma Rizvani, who recorded ten saves in just those first 24 minutes, got the win knocked out of her and had to leave the game. Rebecca Bock (11 saves) replaced her, and head coach Joe Fortier said he left Bock in as she seemed more aggressive about charging out when a cross looked good.
And that’s where Fortier said the girls lost the game—along the sidelines and in the air. He said Torrington’s strongest offensive attribute was speed on the sides and into the corners, and the ability to then cross accurately and score on headers or one-touch shots from those crosses.
“They attack the ball better than any team in the league [out of the air]”, Fortier said.
Ten minutes after the keeper substitution, Torrington’s Joline Osterhout threaded a ball through three defenders and scored again. It was Elizabeth Marola (minute 68) and Alyssa Otis (minute 74) who sealed the game shut with two goals afforded by corner kicks.
In all, Torrington took 26 shots and scored five (.192). Woodland scored one in ten (.100). Torrington keeper Kelly McDonnell recorded 14 saves on the day.
So the girls’ squad will have to try to show their stuff in the state playoffs after being eliminated from the NVL tournament in the 5-1 defeat.
The Hawks tied Torrington, 2-2, when they first met this season. Fortier said the girls did a better job defending against the Red Raiders’ strong crossing game that day.
“[Saturday’s match] was a poor showing,” he said. “We just weren’t able to stop them.”
Fortier said he expects a stronger squad next year even though three starting seniors will be graduating. He thinks team captain and midfielder Raven Palmerie will intensify her game, saying she’s a “leader on and off the field.” He’ll also be looking for striker Kerri DeBiase and sweeper Kelly Boucher to step up.