NAUGATUCK — The rematch on the pitch between the Woodland and Naugatuck girls played out as expected Monday — a lot of physical contact but a lot less fouls, at least from the referee’s point of view.
The Greyhounds and Hawks opened the season with a game that featured 22 penalties, so a physical affair was anticipated again on Monday. What wasn’t expected was the Hawks’ 3-0 final margin over the Greyhounds, who are missing a little bite out of their offense.
Naugatuck lost its leading scorer, Sara Marques, to an injury in last Friday’s 1-0 loss to Watertown, and the bad news is the senior forward may be lost for the season. The Greyhounds (5-4) have now gone scoreless in the last three games.
“Sara was a big part of our offense and losing her obviously has taken its toll. … We are a good team. We just need to get back in practice and get that determination back,” Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said.
On Monday it was a battle for possession right from the opening horn. Kyla Magalhaes, Hannah Lauer and Alyana Sosa raced after every loose ball at midfield as the ‘Hounds tried to gain possession.
The center of the Woodland (9-0) attack, led by Alexa Casimiro, Gillian Hotchkiss, Sam Plasky and Haley Andrews, were in full contact mode as the middle of the field took on the presence of a pinball machine.
Players crashed into one another, bodies tumbled to the turf and possessions were exchanged, but no real threat into either end materialized until 25 minutes had ticked off the clock.
With 15:10 left in the first half Naugatuck made a run deep into Woodland territory. Lauer steered a pass from along the near sideline that found Hailey Boulanger in stride. The sophomore forward managed to sidestep a defender and let go of a shot that glanced off the far post.
A few minutes later Woodland had its turn.
Alexa Casimiro raced towards the sideline managing to get around a defender and threaded a pass onto the foot of Julia Casimiro inside the box. Naugy keeper Sophie Boucher charged out and pounced on the ball to keep it a scoreless game.
The Hawks were relentless, though, and it was that kind of approach that hung the first goal on the board just before the break.
With 2:51 to go Plasky settled a possession inside the box and let go of a shot that was deflected by a defender. The ball came right back to Plasky who wasted no time to send a high spiraling kick just out of the reach of Boucher, and into the back of the net.
“I just stayed with it,” Plasky said. “We knew this was going to be a battle and we just had to stay with it, and continue to press on.”
Woodland head coach Cait Witham said the goal right before the half changed the game.
“Gaining the momentum right before the half was the game-changer,” Witham said. “We knew Naugatuck was going to play tough especially on their home field. I told the girls we needed to come out here and battle for every ball.”
Clinging to a 1-0 advantage with 23 minutes left in the game the Hawks got a fortunate goal to up the margin.
Hailey Borris sent in a corner kick that Jess Rodrigues controlled. Alexa Casimiro broke just outside the box and received the pass. With a pile up in front of the goal, Alexa Casimiro sent a blast that somehow missed the throng of players and surprised Boucher, who may have had her sightline blocked as the ball rippled the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“Defensively we did a great job keeping Naugatuck out of our end,” Alexa Casimiro said. “Offensively we may have got lucky a few times. I tried to get the ball back inside and the keeper may not have seen it until it was too late.”
Woodland put the clincher in the net with 20:33 left when Julia Casimiro got one past Boucher, who came out to defend.
Woodland is set to visit St. Paul on Friday before returning home Oct. 13 to take on Wolcott.
Naugatuck is scheduled to play Torrington Wednesday at 6 p.m. at home. The Greyhounds will host Seymour on Friday and Joel Barlow Oct. 12.