BEACON FALLS — The Woodland boys’ soccer squad opened the fall season Tuesday with a home contest against Ansonia, a team Coach Tony Moutinho said the Hawks have for years been evenly matched with.
The Hawks, powered by a two-goal performance from forward Eric Dietz, slid by the Chargers, 3-2, sprinting out of the gate with an encouraging win coming off last season’s lukewarm 6-9-2 record.
For most of the first half, it appeared the two squads would take a 0-0 draw to the halftime bench. Even as Woodland dominated possession, taking 16 shots in the first half alone, Dietz, forward Christian Pinho and midfielders Tyler Carlos and Matt Moutinho struggled to thread a ball through Ansonia’s defense and by keeper Michael Palmquist.
But in the 34th minute, Dietz saw his opportunity and chipped a short shot that flew over Palmquist’s head and bounced off the crossbar into net.
It was Dietz again in the 37th, when his speed left Ansonia’s defenders in the dust as he carried the ball halfway across the pitch and slipped it just wide of Palmquist’s diving save attempt.
“[Dietz] has to be our leading goal-scorer in order for us to be successful this season” Moutinho said. “He’s the fastest one on the team, and we need him to score.”
Dietz spread his two successful shots over six attempts, averaging 33 percent accuracy.
The Hawks took Dietz’s two to the bench and came back swinging as Pinho netted number three in the 42nd minute, giving the Hawks a comfortable lead and all but sealing Ansonia’s fate.
But Charger forwards Standley Jean-Baptiste and Albert Kwaskiewicz had other ideas. The duo combined for eight shots over the course of the match, netting one each.
Baptiste scored on a penalty shot in the 45th minute and Kwaskiewicz scooted a second ball past Woodland keeper Patrick Dietz, who replaced Mark Beaulieu in the second half, 12 minutes later. Ansonia lit up in the second half, equalizing possession and taking advantage of an increasingly weary Hawks lineup.
“We were up 3-0, but this team always comes back on us,” Moutinho said. “Somehow, I don’t know if we had overconfidence in the second half, or if the wind didn’t help. We had the wind in the first half and that helped us. … The first half we totally dominated. In the second half we probably could have played a little more conservatively and held the score down. It kind of backfired on us.”
But the Hawks managed to hold the Chargers to their two goals and recorded an uncommon home-opener win.
“We took the home opener for a change,” Moutinho said. “We usually start out slowly, but not this year. But I knew it was going to be a tough game.”
The Hawks will need to work on following through and finishing on chances, Moutinho added, if they want to have continued success this season. Indeed, the Hawks took 22 shots to the Chargers’ 11, netting only three for an average of 14 percent.
“We should have won six to nothing, and we just don’t know how to finish,” Moutinho said. “And more communication. In the second half we went down because we weren’t communicating.”
The aggressive Chargers recorded 19 fouls to the Hawks’ 12. Palmquist made 13 successful saves for an 81-percent save ratio as Beaulieu and Patrick Dietz combined for four. The pair took home 75- and 33-percent ratios, respectively.
The Hawks took seven corner kicks to the Chargers’ three, though neither team scored off a corner.
The Hawks were scheduled to take on Sacred Heart Friday at 3:30 p.m. at home.