BEACON FALLS — It was something like a championship—the Crosby Bulldogs were in eighth place in the Naugatuck Valley League, and Woodland was nipping at their heels going into Thursday’s match.
The last spot in the NVL tourney was at stake, and the Woodland boys couldn’t muster the magic they’ve been showing now and again in the last few weeks. They managed a tie with Seymour, they almost beat Naugatuck, and they improved their record over the course of the season, as the young squad matured and showed more chemistry the more its members played together.
But none of that mattered Thursday night, as the Bulldogs scored once early and twice late to edge the Hawks out of tourney contention, winning it, 3-0.
The Hawks were in good standing (eighth place) after last Friday’s 5-3 win over Ansonia, but the following 2-1 loss to Kennedy was especially devastating—captain Tyler Carlos earned himself a red card after a spat with a referee over a botched substitution, and he had to sit out the Crosby match.
Tony Moutinho, the Hawks’ head coach, said Carlos’ absence was a factor, if not a deciding factor, saying Carlos is “one of the better players on the team … but he set a bad example for the younger kids and didn’t do a very good job.”
Moutinho said the match “could have gone either way. We had a couple breakdowns in the beginning and at the end … we just couldn’t find the net. We passed the ball well, we dominated up in the middle, just up front, we couldn’t find the net today.”
Indeed, the Hawks couldn’t quite find the net—but they managed to find Crosby keeper Ramazan Sinani’s gloves 21 times over 80 minutes.
Crosby’s Devlin Anes found Woodland keeper Damien Giordano’s net early in the match, and the score stayed at 1-0 for the majority of the game. Then in minute 75, Rron Bersha scored, deflecting a shot off Giordano and just over the goal line, and Ferdi Salmani followed with a third tally in the 77th off a corner kick, bringing the score to the 3-0 final.
Giordano saved the other 14 of the Bulldogs’ 17 shots.
Moutinho is hoping for a “good draw” for a matchup in round one in the Class M state playoff. The Hawks have been eliminated in the first round in each of the last three years, and if things play out right, the boys will have chance to record at least another win this year.