WATERBURY — Woodland boys soccer coach Tony Moutinho saw a slim chance of his team coming back from a 3-1 deficit to Holy Cross with seven minutes remaining in the Class M state tournament first round, so he started to empty the bench.
But Scott Seigle scored with 6:12 remaining and Mike Costa netted the equalizer with seven seconds left to send the match to overtime.
“To be honest, I put all the subs in until we scored our second goal,” Moutinho said. “Then I put all our starters back in and that’s when we tied it. I really didn’t think we were going to come back down by two with seven minutes left.”
The No. 24 Hawks couldn’t finish the comeback, though, falling short on penalty kicks in a 4-3 (4-2 PK) loss to No. 9 Holy Cross at Municipal Stadium.
Crusaders senior and Beacon Falls resident Ryan Holub dealt the final blow on Holy Cross’ fourth penalty kick.
“I just wanted to put it in,” Holub said. “That’s the only thing I thought of.”
Holub, the final of the Crusaders’ kicking quintet, needed to make his kick to clinch the win after Woodland’s Steve Pec and Dan LeClerc both drilled their shots. It was a situation in which Cross coach Ryan McDonald felt total comfort with Holub.
“Ryan’s a senior, he’s a captain and he’s got great composure,” McDonald said. “That’s what you’re looking for in a situation like that.”
After a first half that ended in a 1-1 tie, the Crusaders scored two goals in the first 58 seconds of the second half on blasts by Phillip Mongelluzzo and John Ianniello to take a 3-1 advantage.
“We had a little lapse,” Moutinho said. “We have a few minutes every game where we just stop playing. That really put us behind the 8-ball.”
The score held for the next 32 minutes until Seigle scored his second goal of the game — and the second goal of his senior season — after the Crusaders couldn’t clear a Woodland (8-8-2) corner to make it a 3-2 game with 6:12 left in regulation.
The Hawks, playing without leading scorer Vigan Pacuku and a number of other players due to school-imposed suspensions, nearly tied it with 1:10 to play but Holy Cross goalkeeper Luca DiCarlo made a sprawling save on a header by Adam McDonald to keep the lead.
“It affected us big-time,” Moutinho said of the suspensions. “We had to maneuver the lineup around. We moved up Mike because I wasn’t sure anyone else would score. We got a great effort from Scott. They gave a good effort.”
With 20 seconds left, the Crusaders cleared a ball past midfield but Costa gained possession and streaked down the right sideline. He pulled up at the top right corner of the box and blasted a shot over DiCarlo and under the crossbar for the equalizer with 7.9 seconds remaining.
The teams battled through a pair of scoreless overtime periods before penalty kicks. Holy Cross’ first two kickers, Jon Gallo and Paolo DaSilva, drilled their opportunities while the Hawks missed their first two, including a DiCarlo save against Costa.
Woodland’s season ended with consecutive tournament losses a year after the program’s most successful season.
“It was pretty much what I expected,” Moutinho said of the season. “I knew we were going to finish in the middle of the pack and I was hoping to get a win in NVLs and states. We just let this one slip away. There’s always next year.”