BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls’ soccer squad took on the Watertown Indians, the defending NVL champs, at home Friday night and suffered a heartbreaking loss after an inspired rally in the second half.
The Hawks were competitive in the first half but seemed no match for the Indians, who dominated possession and pummeled them with shot after shot. Woodland keeper Alma Rizvani let by only two of 10 on-target tries in the first half, one from Nikky Martino in minute 26 and another from Jessica Spezzano in the 29th, and Woodland brought a 2-0 deficit with them to the bench at the half, having taken only two shots in the 40-minute period.
Who knows what head coach Joe Fortier said to the Hawks during the break, but it sure got their blood pumping. The Woodland offense started executing what Fortier called “combination passing” in a big way, and the girls scored three times in the second half, once off a misdirected head from Watertown’s Sydney Jensen and once each from captain Ally Negaro in minute 53 and Kieran DeBiase in minute 70.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Watertown offense wasn’t backing down, either; Spezzano scored two more times in the half for a hat trick.
Woodland dug in deep during the last 10 minutes to even the 4-3 score, but went home empty-handed when they couldn’t turn the tide. The girls were shut down by Woodland keeper Melissa Dodge, who recorded 7 saves in the match—some of which were very good saves of on-target shots from Woodland forwards in their energized second-half surge. Rizvani ended up with a total of 14 in the contest and had her fair share of tough ones.
“We fought hard,” Fortier said after the contest. “We were a couple inches from winning … we were an inch away from winning … we did well against a defense that doesn’t give up many goals … but the defense has to do a better job of clearing out that ball.”
The girls’ squad faces a similar predicament as the boys—only one junior and one senior start, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. As talented as a player might be, experience ends up being the real deciding factor when it comes to delivering consistent results.
The loss brings the Hawks to 3-3-1 on the season, dropping them to 23rd place in the 38-team M division.