Hawks edge Naugy

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Woodland’s Julie Accetura (26) looks to pass as Naugatuck’s Hannah Lauer (17) defends Sept. 12 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-1. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Julie Accetura (26) looks to pass as Naugatuck’s Hannah Lauer (17) defends Sept. 12 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-1. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — What a way to start the season. It came as no surprise to see players strewn all over the soccer field last Saturday as Woodland and Naugatuck opened the girls soccer season with a flurry.

For a game that is normally played in an upright position, countless players hit the turf courtesy of hard, physical contact marked with a purpose. The referees also took notice and awarded 22 penalties. It was the final penalty that set up the winning goal.

With 5 minutes to play in a 1-1 game Naugatuck defenders Leigha Molligi and Catarina Rego brought the Hawks’ Megen Sirowich to the turf setting off the referees whistle.

Haley Andrews lined up a 30-yard direct kick. Andrews wound up and lifted a high-arching shot that found the upper corner of the net just out of the reach of Naugy goalkeeper Sophie Boucher, who had 12 saves on the day.

Pandemonium erupted on the Woodland sidelines.

Andrews’ goal proved to be the game-winner. The Hawks’ defense swarmed Naugatuck for the remaining 5 minutes and Woodland claimed a 2-1 victory.

“I’m so proud of my girls. They never hung their heads. They battled back to tie the game and never once quit,” Woodland head coach Cait Witham said. “We had two great opportunities to take over this game early on but we have a problem staying on sides and both of those goals were taken off the board. That’s definitely something we need to work on not getting caught offsides.”

Woodland got a quick strike goal from Jess Rodrigues 3 minutes into the contest but an offsides call nullified the goal. At the 21 minute mark the Hawks again appeared to score only to have the goal waved off on an offsides call again.

Woodland maintained its composure but couldn’t break through a tough Naugatuck defense, led by Sophia Marks and Jasmine Grey, and the game remained scoreless at the break.

“We talked at halftime about coming out and creating opportunities and not playing tired,” Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said. “I think those two early opportunities by Woodland that were taken off the board woke up our defense.”

Naugatuck came right out and took the lead 4 minutes into the second half. Hailey Boulanger and Sara Marks set up Kyla Magalhaes just outside the middle of the box for the 1-0 lead.

Woodland’s Gillian Hotchkiss (16) controls the ball in front of Naugatuck’s Jasmine Grey (8) Sept. 12 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-1. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Gillian Hotchkiss (16) controls the ball in front of Naugatuck’s Jasmine Grey (8) Sept. 12 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-1. –KEN MORSE

“Lisa (Mariano) is a great coach and I just had a feeling that she was going to have her team fired up coming out in the second half,” Witham said. “I told my girls if we can survive the first 5 minutes of the second half then we would have a chance. And sure enough they come out and score 4 minutes into the second half.”

Maribella Sousa and Julia Casimiro helped Woodland to push the ball into the Naugy end for much of the second half. Sonia Sousa, Gillian Hotchkiss, Hailey Borris and Sam Plasky did a great job winning 50/50 balls at midfield to jump start the Hawks attack downfield.

Nicole Crowley, Hannah Lauer and Alyana Sosa continued to put the pressure on offensively for Naugatuck, but the Greyhounds would not threaten again for the remainder of the game. Shae Geary, Eliza Smith, Haley Wolfanger and Julie Accetura provided the defense out in front of Jenna Pannone (six saves) to keep Naugatuck in check.

With 27:03 left to play Alexa Casimiro delivered a corner and Shae Geary headed it in to the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Penalties had the final say, and Andrews made the most of the last opportunity to put Woodland into the win column and send the ‘Hounds home looking for a little redemption the next time around.

“In spite of the loss I’m very pleased at how the team played overall,” Mariano said. “We came out in the second half and stayed with it and were much more aggressive, we stayed composed and played our game of soccer.

“This rivalry is always an intense battle and that’s exactly the way it played out. But, for a first game of the season, it was a great way to start off with this kind of intense battle.”

Woodland improved to 2-0 on the season with a 4-2 win over Holy Cross on Tuesday. The Hawks will be back in action Friday versus Watertown.

Naugatuck (0-1) is scheduled to host Watertown at 6 p.m. The Greyhounds will travel to Torrington on Friday.