Hawks look to overcome key loss

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Woodland seniors, from left, Ryan Swanson, Matthew Iannone, Nicholas Hudson, Omar Turshani, Maciej Lewicki, Tim Mendes and Joshua Powanda along with Gabe Sousa (missing from photo) will lead the Hawks this season. –KYLE BRENNAN

BEACON FALLS — A season-ending injury to one of the Naugatuck Valley League’s top scorers will make it more difficult for the Woodland boys soccer team to contend for a championship this fall, but the Hawks aren’t giving up hope just yet.

Maciej Lewicki led Woodland in scoring last year as the Hawks went 12-6-1 and reached the second round of the Class M state tournament. But Lewicki suffered a back injury that will force him to miss his senior season.

The Hawks will also have to replace several talented players from last year’s squad, including Senol Music, Jack LaPerriere, Christian Poirier and goalie Andrew Spofford.

But the cupboard in the Woods is far from bare. A large influx of young players has boosted the spirits of 18th-year coach Tony Moutinho.

“We have to blend all the young talent with the veterans,” Moutinho said. “We had 42 players try out, which is our most ever.”

Among the top returners for the Hawks are two-year captain Ryan Swanson, fellow seniors Josh Powanda, Tim Mendes and Matt Iannone, and juniors George Hughes, Ryan Lamb, Cole Barrows, Jason Claiborn, Devon Polletta and Dante Polletta.

“We are returning very good players from last year’s team,” Moutinho said. “If we can overcome an injury to one of the better players in the league, Maciej Lewicki, we will be in the mix.”

Woodland will open the season Thursday at home against Sacred Heart. The Hawks will also host Brookfield in a nonleague game Saturday before hitting the road Sept. 11 to face Waterbury Career.