WATERTOWN — Where some might see a problem, the Woodland girls soccer team continues to present solutions.
When senior Steph Dumond went down with an injury last month, the Hawks lost one of their top scorers and leaders. Numerous Hawks have stepped up and played a bigger role.
Take for example Woodland’s 2-0 win Monday night at Watertown, the Naugatuck Valley League’s two-time defending champion. While the Indians graduated a lot of experience from last year’s team, they still represent one of the league’s most dangerous squads.
Jess Rodrigues and Savannah Aviz scored five minutes apart and the Hawks’ midfield dominated possession against one of the top teams in the NVL.
“We have a lot of girls stepping up in their spots,” Hawks head coach Joe Fortier said.
With the victory, the Hawks improved to 7-0 on the season.
Rodrigues scored her fifth goal of the season 13:55 into the match, taking a pass from Shea Gerry and slipping through the defense to put a shot past goalkeeper Ariana Hoxha.
“Shea passed it up to me,” Rodrigues said. “I was lucky it went in.”
While the Hawks may have benefited from good fortune on their first goal, their second goal happened thanks to hard work. Aviz won a loose-ball battle 10 yards out and fired a shot for Woodland’s insurance tally.
In the middle, Keri DeBiase, Alexa Casimiro and Gerry pressured the Indians throughout the night and kept the ball on Watertown’s defensive side.
“We lost too many 50-50 balls tonight,” Watertown head coach Lisa Mariano said.
DeBiase leads the NVL with 13 goals through Monday’s action. Last Saturday, she notched a hat trick to lead Woodland to an 8-0 win over Wolcott.
Alma Rizvani and Erika Tyrell combined for the shutout. The Hawks have only allowed one goal in seven matches, coming on a penalty kick by Sacred Heart last month.
Woodland’s schedule doesn’t get any easier. The Hawks were set to travel to Holy Cross on Wednesday, then to South-West Conference contender Bunnell on Friday. Woodland returns home Monday to host Naugatuck at 3:30 p.m.
And while the undefeated Hawks are gaining attention, Fortier knows there’s a lot of season left in a conference full of competitive teams, all looking to deny Woodland its first league title since 2004.
“Anyone that thinks we’re the team to beat hasn’t been watching this league the last few years,” Fortier said.