PLAINFIELD — A slow start hampered the Woodland girls in the opening round of the Class M state tournament Tuesday as the No. 25-seeded Hawks fell to No. 8 Plainfield, 58-30.
Five first-period turnovers by Woodland (10-12) translated into baskets for the Panthers as they opened a 17-4 advantage after one period. The Hawks finally got their offense on track but the defensive effort still lagged as Plainfield outscored Woodland by a 21-11 margin to open up a commanding 38-15 lead at the half.
“We came out a little bit nervous,” Woodland head coach Jess Moffo said. “By the time we settled down we were chasing the lead the rest of the way.”
The Hawks’ defense turned it up a notch in the second half, holding the Panthers to just 20 points after the break, but Woodland’s offense only countered with 15 points as the team’s season came to a close.
Andrea Piccolo led the Hawks with eight points. Nicole Fowler added six points with Ashley Michie and Hannah Deegan each contributing five points. Alma Rizvani and Brianna Pacileo each added two points to pace the Woodland attack.
Moffo said returning to the postseason after the program’s first-ever absence last year was a solid accomplishment for her team.
“Making the tournament after missing out last year was a big achievement for this team,” Moffo said. “We are certainly going to miss our seniors, Liz Martin, Alma Rizvani and Nicole Fowler. They were all good leaders on this team and even after starting 0-3 we were competitive against Wolcott, St. Paul and Watertown. We managed to turn it around and that set the tempo for the rest of the season.”
The Hawks won their first game in the fourth contest of the season and then rattled off six wins over the next seven games. Woodland went 4-6 in the second half of the season as its offense scored fewer than 30 points four times. But the Hawks’ defense was the key, holding opponents to fewer than 40 points seven times during the season.
With only three seniors on the roster, plenty of underclassmen saw playing time and contributed to big victories.
“A lot of our younger girls got a lot of good experience this year,” Moffo said. “The absolute highlight of the season was beating Torrington and we held them to under 40 points. Beating Wolcott the second time around was also a big win for us and gave us some confidence.”
Woodland will have a solid unit returning next season with juniors Deegan, Piccolo, Michie and Pacileo leading the way.
“We have four experienced players coming back,” Moffo said. “I can’t wait to get back out there on the court. Becky Hale is a much improved player with Angeline and Abby Rosato also being in the mix. We will be playing in a league over the summer in Newtown and we are looking to get into a fall league so we will be ready when the season starts.”