BEACON FALLS — It has taken 10 years but the Woodland boys soccer team has finally figured out Naugatuck. Last Friday, the Hawks hosted the ‘Hounds, winners of 11 of the last 14 league titles, and Woodland established itself in convincing fashion, winning, 6-2.
Eric Dietz put on a clinic and at times was simply sensational as he pounded five goals into the back of the net to lead the Hawks’ (10-0-1) assault. But it was the sheer strength of Woodland’s defense that quickly turned the tide against the Greyhounds.
“We came in here with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder,” said Dietz, referring to the Hawks 2-2 tie with Watertown, the only blemish on their record. “We had opportunities to win that game but didn’t finish. We wanted to come out here and dictate the flow of the game.”
The fearless foursome of Adam Baz, Mike Costa, Kevin Kozera and Nick Hebert harassed, thwarted and completely put a halt to the Greyhounds’ attack. When the ‘Hounds actually managed to get a clean shot, Hawks goalkeeper Marc Beaulieu was there to make six saves in the net.
Naugatuck (7-3-1) came into the contest red-hot, going 5-0-1 in its last six games and piling up 32 goals in the process. But it was no match for the Hawks’ starting defensive unit that has allowed just two goals all season.
“We started the season playing very well but we didn’t play the top teams yet,” Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho said. “Now we have played Watertown and Naugatuck and have seen what we can really do as a team.”
Three minutes into the game, Mike Segala took a pass inside the box and quickly got it to Dietz who came charging through the left corner. The shot found the far post past the dive of Anthony Pohorilak for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later Segala recorded his second assist of the game, finding Nick LaPerriere in full stride for a blast that handcuffed Pohorilak to open up a 2-0 advantage.
Naugatuck battled with Nolan Kinne trying to get open in the middle and Adam Branco charging into the corner with Greyhound possessions. But before the ‘Hounds could settle the ball for a decent shot, the Hawks’ defense disrupted the advance.
“We knew if we could possess the ball we could strike early and take away the momentum,” Moutinho said. “We had trouble doing that against Watertown and we knew if we were going to be successful against Naugatuck we needed to do a better job controlling possessions.”
With 7:50 to go in the first half Dietz took a pass from Matt Moutinho and went shoulder-to-shoulder with Naugatuck defender Isaque Monteiro into the corner of the box. A blast made it just inside the post to give the Hawks a convincing 3-0 margin.
“Last year we had a three-goal lead over Naugatuck but they came back on us,” Moutinho said. “But this is the first time in 10 years that we have defeated them and that says something about the heart of this team.”
Early in the second half, Vigan Pacuku assisted Dietz for his third goal of the game with 30:09 to play, opening up a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Greyhounds finally got on the board with 28:18 left as Adam Branco assisted Fernando Branco to make it a 4-1 game.
Dietz appeared to have shifted gears at that point as he raced around defenders to put two more goals in the net, one with 24:08 to play and then on the next possession with 23:19 left to build a 6-1 advantage.
Naugatuck scored a final goal as Nolan Kinne rippled the back of the net but the ‘Hounds could get no closer.
“The kids are on a real high right now,” Moutinho said. “But we haven’t won anything yet. The NVL tournament will be coming up and we will see what we can do then.”
Woodland started this week on fire, beating Holy Cross and St. Paul to remain unbeaten. The Hawks will visit Seymour on Friday before hosting home matches against Wilby on Tuesday and Crosby next Friday.
Naugatuck, meanwhile, beat Kennedy on Tuesday and lost to Pomperaug in non-league action on Wednesday. The Greyhounds host Sacred Heart on Friday night and visit Torrington on Tuesday.