Best of 2012-13 high school sports: Top 10 games

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Naugatuck’s Sydney Cotto (50) stretches for the ball and an out as Woodland’s Rachel Starkey races down the first base line April 22 in Beacon Falls. The Hawks erased a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh to win in extra innings. –FILE PHOTO
Naugatuck’s Sydney Cotto (50) stretches for the ball and an out as Woodland’s Rachel Starkey races down the first base line April 22 in Beacon Falls. The Hawks erased a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh to win in extra innings. –FILE PHOTO

It’s been almost a month since hundreds of local high school seniors earned their diplomas, but we’re still in the 2012-13 high school sports mode for just a little bit longer.

In the second of a three-part series, we’ll take a look back at the top 10 games, matches and meets of the last school year. We were lucky enough to see some outstanding contests and Naugatuck Valley League championships in all different sports, and many of them came in the Woodland-Naugatuck rivalry. We’ve picked out our 10 favorites of the year, listed chronologically.

Top 10 Games

Last-drive penalty denies Naugy against Cross (Oct. 20, 2012): In the wake of the resignation of former football coach Rob Plasky just weeks before their season opener, the Greyhounds got off to a surprising 4-1 start and hosted a crucial NVL Copper Division against Holy Cross. Naugy held a 21-12 lead early in the third, but Cross rallied to take a 27-21 edge with 4:19 to play. The ‘Hounds mounted a drive and appeared to tie the game on Jason Bradley’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Kuczenski, but an illegal formation penalty negated the score. Naugatuck couldn’t do it again and fell out of divisional contention.

Hawks face rare deficit but rally past ‘Hounds (Nov. 1, 2012): The Woodland girls soccer team hadn’t trailed in 1,212 minutes of its dominant NVL season, but Naugatuck’s Alexya Alves handed the Hawks a seldom-faced deficit on a strike in the 13th minute of a league semifinal at Wolcott. Woodland knotted up the game early in the second half on a Shae Geary header, then pulled ahead on Keri DeBiase’s self-made goal. The Hawks won 3-1 but fell to Watertown in the NVL championship.

Late goal stuns Greyhounds in NVL semi (Nov. 1, 2012): The Naugy boys soccer squad earned the Copper Division title on the strength of its offense, but hot Torrington goalkeeper Zack Paniati kept the ‘Hounds out of the net despite a number of excellent chances in Wolcott. The Red Raiders scored on a fancy goal by Shane Walker with 12 minutes remaining to earn a 1-0 win and deny Naugatuck a trip to the NVL final.

Woodland’s comeback foiled in penalty kicks (Nov. 9, 2012)
: With potentially only seven minutes left in the Hawks’ boys soccer season, they trailed Holy Cross 3-1 in the Class M state tournament first round. A goal by Scott Seigle with 6:12 remaining made it a 3-2 game, and with seven seconds left Mike Costa fired a shot under the crossbar from the top of the box to send the match to overtime. The teams battled through two scoreless overtime periods before the Crusaders pulled away in penalty kicks, with Beacon Falls resident Ryan Holub striking the game-winner.

Hawks dominate Tolland to reach state final (Nov. 14, 2012)
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In what was the biggest match in Woodland volleyball history to that point, the Hawks served up their best-ever performance. The top seed routed No. 5 Tolland in a 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 sweep at Berlin High. Woodland’s flawless defense allowed just 18 kills while Tayler Boncal and Brianna Pacileo combined for 19. The Hawks also served 14 aces and started the match with a 15-2 run en route to making their first Class M final, where they lost 3-1 to Ledyard.

16-point deficit gone in 7 minutes of Class S quarter (Nov. 28, 2012): A pick-six thrown by record-setting Woodland quarterback Tanner Kingsley gave upstart Capital Prep a 28-12 lead midway through the third quarter of the Class S quarterfinal in Hartford. But the Hawks rallied as Kingsley tossed two touchdown passes to Anthony Scirpo, which paired with two two-point conversions tied the game at 28 early in the fourth. Woodland forced a safety to take a 30-28 lead, solidified it with Kingsley’s fifth touchdown pass to Rahmi Rountree and held on by grabbing an onside kick and running out the clock on a gutsy third-down catch by Jack Pinho.

Woodland’s David Uhl (21) drives past Naugatuck’s Jerome Love (10) Jan. 11 in Naugatuck. The Greyhounds held off two comebacks by the Hawks to win the game, with Mick Pernell icing it at the free throw line. –FILE PHOTO
Woodland’s David Uhl (21) drives past Naugatuck’s Jerome Love (10) Jan. 11 in Naugatuck. The Greyhounds held off two comebacks by the Hawks to win the game, with Mick Pernell icing it at the free throw line. –FILE PHOTO

Naugy delights raucous crowd by beating Hawks (Jan. 11, 2013): With the potential exception of the gridiron, there is no place where the Naugatuck-Woodland rivalry is stronger than on the boys hardwood. On a Friday night in the borough, a loud Greyhounds student section turned out to help their team to a 66-57 win. Naugy took two big leads in the first and third quarters only to see Woodland erase both of them. Mick Pernell played the biggest role in holding off the Hawks at the end, hitting five of six free throws to ice the game.

‘Hounds and Hawks grab NVL indoor track titles (Jan. 29, 2013): Both of Woodland’s indoor track teams were favored to win NVL championships for the second year in a row, but only one managed the repeat. The Hawks girls bested Seymour thanks to four event wins, including a surprising win by Becca Moscato in the high jump. The watershed event on the boys side turned out to be the sprint medley relay, where the heavily favored Hawks were disqualified for a false start and gave up 10 points that likely would have pushed them past Naugatuck. Instead, the Greyhounds took advantage and won the title thanks to event wins by Patrick Alves and Collin Reilly. Woodland’s Mike Lang was the Outstanding Meet Performer with three gold medals.

Woodland erases 4-1 deficit, tops Naugy in extras (April 22, 2013)
: Facing a 4-1 deficit in the bottom of the seventh, the Woodland softball team plated three runs to force extra innings. In the eighth, Steph Kiley scored on a two-base sacrifice fly by Cameron Caswell to complete the comeback and take a 5-4 win. Brooke Leshin singled to load the bases in the seventh before a two-run single by Nicole Fowler and an RBI groundout by Rachel Starkey tied the game. Woodland’s rally erased Naugatuck’s three-run third, which included a homer by Sarah Chandler.

Locals litter NVL boys tennis finals (May 22, 2013)
: There was no debate this spring where the best tennis in the NVL could be found. Woodland won its third straight league title and emphasized it with a gold rush in the NVL finals, as Kyle Beynor won his second NVL singles title and Steve Pec teamed with Pat Dietz to win the doubles championship. Naugatuck didn’t make it easy on Woodland, though, as the Greyhounds won the Copper Division with their only losses coming to the Hawks. Exchange student Julian Milek handed Beynor his first NVL loss during the regular season before the two met for the league championship. Beynor fought for a straight-sets win in that match. Woodland’s Matt Murphy also placed fourth in singles competition.