By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — With the postseason right around the corner, the Woodland boys soccer team knows one thing — it will be in position to compete for the Naugatuck Valley League championship.
In a high-profile matchup Oct. 13 between a pair of NVL unbeatens, Woodland and Holy Cross battled to a 1-1 tie.
The Hawks’ leading scorer, Preston Alessio, gave his squad a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute, but Cross tied it up early in the second half. Woodland goalie D.J. Mulligan made sure the Hawks didn’t give up another goal after that, recording nine saves in all. His defense has only given up seven goals through 10 games.
“I tried to keep my teammates up and keep them going,” Mulligan told the Republican-American. “I always feel pressure, but in the moment the pressure is not there. I just think about saving the ball and getting it out of the box.”
Woodland coach Kenan Collins said games like the midseason showdown with Holy Cross — which attracted a strong crowd in a primetime spot at Municipal Stadium — are what he and his squad enjoy.
“The fact there are this many people showing up to a game smack dab in the middle of the season proves that this is the game to come watch,” Collins told the Rep-Am. “These are the games that make this enjoyable. When you see the kids leave it all out on the pitch, when both teams can walk away feeling like they gave it their all and there is a good chance we will see each other again. I had a good time.”
The Hawks cruised past Crosby, 9-0, on Oct. 15. Luca Cambra, Alessio and Jaylen Goodall each scored two goals. Sean Hussey Rob Giampetruzzi and Diego Sargent added a goal each.
The result moved Woodland to 8-0-3 on the season, 8-0-2 in the NVL. Holy Cross is the only other undefeated team in the league at 10-0-2 (9-0-2 NVL), while Watertown is another top contender at 10-1, with its only loss coming in the season-opener to the Hawks.
The Hawks cruised to a pair of victories before the Holy Cross match. In a 7-0 win over Torrington on Oct. 8, Alessio netted three goals, Alex Farr added two, and Connor Cull and Hussey tacked on a goal apiece.
Alessio had another hat trick in a 6-1 win over Wilby on Oct. 12. Nathan Swercewski, Farr and Tanner Barrows also chipped in with goal each.
Woodland has five games left on the regular-season slate: at Oxford on Oct. 18, vs. Waterbury Career on Oct. 20, at Portland on Oct. 22, vs. Seymour for a primetime Senior Night date on Oct. 25, and at St. Paul on Oct. 27.
The NVL tournament will begin Oct. 30.