Woodland girls punch ticket to states

BEACON FALLS — Woodland head coach Jess Moffo wasn’t too sure what she was going to get out of her young Hawks this season as far as wins and losses went.

She knew they were in capable hands with senior co-captains Haley Andrews and Eliza Smith leading the way. After that, there wasn’t a whole lot of varsity experience to take the floor with only junior Hana Bojka seeing quality minutes last season.

Woodland got off to a surprisingly good start, and stood at 6-5 after sophomore Paige Resnick knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Waterbury Career on Jan. 19.

Bojka was becoming a consistent scorer, recording a triple-double during the quick start, and sophomore Jill Barbarito was establishing her presence in the paint.

The Hawks were just two games away from qualifying for the state tournament. Then the inexperience and lack of depth began to take its toll as Woodland dropped six of the next seven games, and the postseason was in doubt.

The Hawks erased all doubt on Monday by picking up win number eight — a 36-23 victory at Torrington — to punch their ticket to the tournament.

The Hawks (8-11) quickly took over the game and led 15-5 over the Raiders (5-14) after the first quarter.

Another 15-point second quarter had Woodland out in front 30-13 at the half. Andrews led the way with 11 points. Barbarito added 10 points and Katie Sirowich checked in with eight points.

“That was a long, hard two and a half weeks,” said Moffo referring to the stretch of six losses in seven games. “But the girls are tough and resilient. We are still young but we are making strides. We were down to Torrington by 12 the first time we faced them and we ended up winning by ten.”

Last Friday, the Hawks were in a battle with Wolcott (10-8). Woodland trailed 15-14 after the first quarter when the bottom dropped out. Outscored 35-19 over the second and third quarters, the Hawks went on to fall by a 65-51 margin.

Smith led Woodland with 17 points and Andrews knocked down 14 points. Sirowich had 10 points and Barbarito added seven.

“We are making strides, and going through that rough patch has helped us to mature as a team,” Moffo said. “Eliza was out sick against Torrington on Monday, and I told her we got your back. The girls responded and said lets win this for Eliza, and they did. That shows a lot of heart by this team.”

The Hawks are still alive for the eighth and final spot in the NVL girls tournament heading into the final game of the regular season Wednesday against Seymour. The Hawks need Waterbury Career to lose to Wilby on Wednesday and a win over Seymour to make the league tourney, which is scheduled to start Saturday at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury.