Woodland boys in a groove

BEACON FALLS — Woodland High boys soccer coach Tony Moutinho didn’t panic after the Hawks’ 1-3 start to the season. Now, the Hawks have the longest winning streak in the Naugatuck Valley League at the right time of the season.

Woodland won its sixth straight match Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Holy Cross. Christian Poirier and Jack LaPerriere scored for Woodland. The Hawks (9-3-1) stretched their unbeaten streak to nine; their last loss came Sept. 16 at Brookfield.

“We just have played much better to our capacity,” Moutinho said. “In the first few games, we didn’t really know ourselves. Everybody was all over the place. The preseason was so short, so we didn’t get to practice a lot. It took some time to get the positions correct.”

The Hawks’ prolific scoring trio of Maciej Lewicki, LaPerriere and Poirier has spurred the offense, which has averaged 3.7 goals per game during the six-game winning streak. All three found the back of the net during last Friday’s 4-1 win over Sacred Heart. Lewicki was involved in all four goals, scoring twice and assisting on the others.

“Maciej has been the biggest star so far,” Moutinho said of the junior center-midfielder. “Pretty much every game this year, he’s had goals or assists. He’s been a very pleasant surprise.”

For as good as those three have been, Moutinho has been more pleased with the Hawks’ defensive effort. They’ve allowed 10 goals during the nine-game unbeaten streak, and senior Andrew Spofford has been solid in his first season as the starting goalkeeper.

“I knew we could score,” Moutinho said,” but our defense has kept us in every game.”

Woodland currently occupies a top-four spot in the NVL tournament standings. The Hawks were 9-2-1 in the league after Tuesday’s games and have already clinched a tournament berth. The league tourney begins with quarterfinals at higher seeds Oct. 28, with the semifinals set for Oct. 30 at Crosby High and the finals set for Nov. 1 at Seymour High.

Woodland is set for an important game Thursday at Ansonia, which was fifth in the league standings after Tuesday’s schedule. The Hawks will wrap up the regular season next week with games Monday at Waterbury Career and Wednesday against Crosby.

Moutinho said his job over the next week and into the postseason will be keeping his team from thinking too much about its winning streak and overlooking any opponents.

“I’m actually afraid that we’re a little too confident,” Moutinho said. “We still need to play our best because anybody can beat anybody. When we get to the playoffs, we have to capitalize on opportunities.”