Hawks in the hunt

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Woodland’s Christian Poirier (10) battles for position with St. Paul’s Jackson Hines (11) Oct. 9 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 1-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Christian Poirier (10) battles for position with St. Paul’s Jackson Hines (11) Oct. 9 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 1-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — Three weeks ago Woodland boys soccer coach Tony Moutinho was pleased to see his team making progress through a rebuilding season. The Hawks have taken flight since then, and find themselves in the NVL race.

Woodland has won six of the last seven games including five in a row to improve to 7-3 on the season.

The Hawks’ fifth straight win came Tuesday in a 1-0 decision over Wolcott. Christian Poirier scored the lone goal of the game off an assist from John Frasco. A.J. Oliveira made seven saves in net to preserve the shutout.

Woodland earned a 1-0 win over a very tough St. Paul team Oct. 9.

Jack LaPerriere gave the Hawks the only goal they would need on an assist from Adem Rifati on an afternoon that brought torrential rains and featured two delays because of lightning. Oliveira made eight saves in the net as the Hawks hung on for the victory.

“That was our biggest win so far this season,” Moutinho said about the victory over St. Paul. “We managed to score a goal against their All-State goalie Zack Federowicz, and then our defense helped us to hang on.”

Moutinho said the win was very exciting for his team and his Hawks are very confident. The veteran coach is making sure the Hawks don’t become overconfident.

“We keep telling them that on any given day any team can come in here and beat us,” he said. “We need to stay focused and just play our game and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Woodland’s defense was at it again shutting down Wilby, 4-0, Oct. 7. Oliveira made six stops in net and Poirier scored a hat trick to pace the offensive attack.

LaPerriere added a goal and two assists. Rifati and Zach Powanda added assists for the Hawks. Defensively, Xavier Gibson has led the way with Matt Hopkinson, Isaac Weinstein and Ryan Swanson making their presence felt.

Woodland’s Ryan Swanson kicks the ball away from St. Paul’s Paul Crouse (18) Oct. 9 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 1-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Ryan Swanson kicks the ball away from St. Paul’s Paul Crouse (18) Oct. 9 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 1-0. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Hawks have only allowed four goals during their recent run, and in the process have climbed into the NVL race.

“We are on a roll and playing much better than I expected,” Moutinho said. “A.J. is without a doubt one of the best keepers in the league and it all starts with our defense.

“Xavier has done an excellent job in the back and is one of the best sweepers in the league. He knows how to play the outside track. But know we are getting the offense to start clicking.”

Moutinho said if the Hawks play up to their potential they can compete with anyone.

“The hardest job I have at this point is keeping these kids on an even keel,” he said. “Their confidence is really soaring and we have some real tough teams coming up.”

Woodland is scheduled to play Oxford Thursday. The Hawks will hit the road to face an improved Crosby team Friday at 3:45 p.m. before hosting Ansonia, which is among the top teams in the league, Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m.

“We are definitely going to be tested and then we will see where we are at,” Moutinho said.