WATERTOWN — The clock was winding down, with 11 seconds left in overtime, as Watertown and Woodland were in fist-full-of-jersey mode. Both teams were trying desperately to hang on, in a 1-1 battle.
The Woodland defense converged outside the box to stop a last-ditch attempt and send the game to a second overtime period. Watertown’s Jessica Spezzano may have been hidden from view, behind a pair of Woodland defenders.
When the Indians forward stepped around the defense with the ball on her foot, Woodland goalie Alma Rizvani didn’t have enough time to react.
Spezzano pounded a shot just inside the post that rippled the back of the net for the game-winner, as the Indians dropped the Hawks, 2-1, on Monday night.
It was senior night for Watertown in a final tune-up for this weekend’s Naugatuck Valley League girls’ soccer tournament, which will be held at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.
A light mist fell on the new turf field, as fog enveloped the Watertown complex. This was a defensive battle from the start, as Rizvani (10 saves) was nothing short of sensational between the pipes for the Hawks.
Inspired by the emotion of senior night, Watertown went on the attack early. Spezzano charged in hard past two defenders and ripped a shot at the far corner. Rizvani left her feet with an all-out extension of her body and somehow got a hand on it to knock it out of harm’s way.
She quickly scrambled to her feet and made another in-the-gut save that bounced out in front. The Indians’ Lauren Scully collected the rebound and let go of a blast that slammed into the post.
The Hawks defense and Rizvani withstood the assault, as Woodland took it into the Watertown end. Marissa Mills and Stephanie Dumond led the attack, looking for Raven Palmerie, breaking past the Watertown defense.
Alaina Neddermann, Ally Negaro and Riley Shaw turned it up a notch at midfield to keep the ball down in the Watertown side of the field.
The Hawks had a couple of near misses but were putting an awful lot of pressure on the Watertown net. Finally, with 7:16 left in the first half, Mills got an angle and took it inside the box.
Goalie Melissa Dodge made a sliding save as the ball came loose out in front. Stephanie Dumond had a clear shot but over-stepped the ball. She managed to regain possession and fired a blast to the far post for a 1-0 Woodland advantage.
Woodland came out in the second half, looking to extend its lead. The defense of Kelly Boucher, Kelsey Dumond, Kelly Sherman and Keri DeBiase limited the Indians’ chances.
Every time the Indians tried to mount an attack, they were met by the wall of the Woodland defense. But the Hawks were having just as much trouble when they tried to penetrate the Watertown zone.
After much pushing, shoving and jersey-pulling Spezzano sent a crossing pass to Sara Bamick from the corner. The Watertown forward squeezed past two defenders and had a one-on-one with Rizvani.
The shot eluded the Woodland keeper at the post, and the game was tied, 1-1, with 9:48 to go in regulation. Katie Reilly came on in defense for the Hawks, with Jenna Kemp shoring up the midfield.
Palmerie had a couple of chances that went wide or over the top of the cross bar, as the game was headed to overtime. With 6:10 left in overtime, Palmerie took a pass from the corner, turned and blasted one that went over the cross bar by a foot.
Rizvani made three saves in the final minutes, and Palmerie again had a chance, but the shot was saved at the post with 3:40 to go.
Time was running out, and a second overtime appeared immanent, until Spezzano scored the game-winner as the final seconds were ticking off the clock.