Hawks play their style

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SEYMOUR — At the halfway point of the girls soccer season, Woodland coach Cait Witham finally saw what she hopes is the real identity of her Hawks last Thursday in Seymour.

Aries Bell and Jill Barbarito scored off passes from Julia Casimiro as Woodland dominated the Wildcats, 2-0. To Witham, it was the first time all season that the Hawks played their style in a competitive match.

“We’re figuring it out, I hope,” Witham said. “(The game against Seymour) was better. We’ve sort of been assuming the style of play of our opponents. We haven’t been playing the type of soccer we want to play. For the majority of the game, I would say that we stuck to Woodland’s style of soccer. That was encouraging.”

That style, she said, should involve use of the entire field and constructive rather than reckless play.

“I want it to be smart,” Witham said. “A lot of games we’ve struggled in, we just haven’t been smart. We’re not switching the field, we’re not using short passes, we’re not using our defenders. We’re kind of just trying to hammer it through other teams. We weren’t actually thinking, but (last Thursday) was better. We used our back line, we switched our point of attack, we used our whip. Our finishing can still stand to be better, but we generated a lot of opportunities.”

Witham pointed to the recent play of Bell, Casimiro, Haley Wolfanger and Jill O’Neil as being particularly strong for the Hawks.

“When we maintain possession for the majority of the game, we’re typically successful,” she added. “When we play run-and-gun and it’s just kickball for 80 minutes, we struggle.”

The win over the Wildcats ended a stretch of up-and-down play for Woodland. The Hawks suffered a 3-2 loss to Holy Cross on Sept. 19, followed by a 1-1 draw against Naugatuck on Sept. 21. Last Friday’s game at St. Paul was postponed.

Woodland stood at 4-1-3 at the midway point of the year following the win over the Wildcats.

Witham felt optimistic after the victory, but she was cautious as the Hawks are set for a pair of important matchups this week.

Woodland will visit undefeated Wolcott on Tuesday. On Friday, the Hawks will host a Watertown team that won its first seven matches without allowing a goal.

“Hopefully I’ll find that we have heart and play hard for each other,” Witham said. “I’ve been trying to get them to buy into the fact that they’re a team, like, ‘You don’t win for me. You don’t play for me. I give you the pieces to hopefully get us a result, but you have to play for each other for 80 minutes. If you can walk off the field and tell your teammate that you gave everything you had, then you won’t have regrets.’ I just don’t feel like we’ve gotten to that level yet.”