Hawks lean on stout defense

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Woodland’s Juliana Villano (6) defends against Torrington’s Colleen Kilgore (4) Oct. 16 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 7-0. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Juliana Villano (6) defends against Torrington’s Colleen Kilgore (4) Oct. 16 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 7-0. –KEN MORSE

BEACON FALLS — The mantra of the Woodland girls soccer team over the past few years has been defense and more defense.

Woodland brought out its defense Oct. 13 against Wolcott, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Hawks’ 10 game winning streak intact as the Hawks had to settle for a 0-0 tie.

“We had our chances against Wolcott but every time we got off a shot it hit something other than the back of the net. It was a wakeup call for us,” Woodland head coach Cait Witham said. “I have been telling the girls it only takes one game when we are not at our best and it can be over that fast.”

Woodland certainly had their opportunities but couldn’t send one to the back of the net. Instead a flurry of shots found the woodwork, the cross bar and everything in between. It was their defense that kept the Hawks’ out of the loss column.

Shae Geary leads an effective group out in front of the net along with Sonia Sousa, Eliza Smith, Haley Wolfanger and Julie Accetura. The Hawks junior keeper Jenna Pannone has shown her worth guarding the net. She has compiled a 27-5-1 mark in 33 career games with 17 shutouts.

Gillian Hotchkiss, Val Vinca and Erin Machado along with Julia Casimiro and Nicole Sherman have given the Hawks a solid presence at midfield.

“Our defense is definitely the strength of this team,” Witham said. “Shae is one of the best defenders in the league and with Jenna in goal we always have a chance to end up in the win column.”

Woodland learned its lesson from the Wolcott game. The Hawks came out in business like fashion last Friday against Torrington and fired away at will to the tune of a 7-0 win.

Woodland’s Haley Andrews (8) winds up to send a shot past Torrington defenders Ali Bottari (13) and Erica Morrison (12) Oct. 16 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 7-0. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Haley Andrews (8) winds up to send a shot past Torrington defenders Ali Bottari (13) and Erica Morrison (12) Oct. 16 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 7-0. –KEN MORSE

Jess Rodrigues led the way with two goals and two assists. Sam Plasky scored two goals with Accetura, Maribella Sousa and Pannone adding goals.

Hailey Borris, Alexa Casimiro, Megen Sirowich and Sousa added assists. Pannone and Alanna Carasone combined for five saves to record the shutout.

Haley Andrews, Juliana Villano and Shannon Pruzinsky came on to shore up the midfield as the Hawks controlled possession throughout a six goal first half.

“We came out here with an agenda after the frustrating game we had against Wolcott,” Witham said. “It gave us a reality check and put everything into perspective. There isn’t a team out there that can’t give us a good game. We can’t just walk out onto the field expecting to be successful. On any given day it can be over just like that.”

The Woodland defense made it three straight shutouts in a 4-0 win over Ansonia on Monday. Casimiro, Villano, Sousa and Rodrigues had a goal each for the Hawks (12-0-1).

Woodland will face Watertown Thursday. The Hawks will conclude the regular season next week. They host Derby on Oct. 26 and will be at Seymour on Oct. 28.