Hawks surge past ‘Hounds

Naugatuck’s Jasmine Grey (8) defends Woodland’s Jess Rodrigues (23) Sept. 29 in Beacon Falls. The Hawks won 4-2.
Naugatuck’s Jasmine Grey (8) defends Woodland’s Jess Rodrigues (23) Sept. 29 in Beacon Falls. The Hawks won 4-2.

BEACON FALLS — The Hawks used a second-half barrage to edge rival Naugatuck 4-2 in a back-and-forth, physical game Monday afternoon at Woodland Regional High School.

A penalty kick by Woodland’s Alexa Casimiro after junior Jessica Rodrigues was tackled inside the box in the 86th minute capped a four-goal second half and the win for the Hawks.

“When we play our game, I don’t think anyone can beat us,” Woodland head coach Cait Witham said.

It was a tale of two halves.

Naugatuck’s Hailey Boulanger provided the Greyhounds with a 1-0 in the 33rd minute. Boulanger ran step by step with a defender, controlling the ball the entire way before launching a shot over the head of Woodland’s goalkeeper, Jenna Pannone, for the goal. A difficult shot that gave the Greyhounds early momentum in a physical first half.

The score remained 1-0 Greyhounds heading into the half.

The Hawks (6-2) came out in the second half with an aggression that took the Greyhounds (4-5) by storm, firing off three goals in the first 18 minutes after halftime to gain enough momentum.

Witham gave her team a halftime speech that sent some life into her players to get them up for the second half, where they took over.

“I just told them to start playing their game and their game is possession soccer, so once they started to maintain possession, they were able to dictate the pace of the game,” Witham said.

The Hawks controlled the ball for the first 15 minutes of the second half in Greyhounds territory, constantly attacking the defense and setting up prime scoring opportunities.

Sam Plasky broke through for the Hawks in the 52nd minute. She took a pass from across the field after a stoppage in play, centered the ball in traffic and fired it past goalie Sophie Boucher to tie the game at 1-1.

Minutes later Rodrigues, who tormented the Greyhounds’ defense all afternoon, took a pass in the box before dribbling right and chipped a shot over Boucher’s head with stellar precision to make it 2-1 Hawks. Rodrigues had four shots on net overall.

In the 63rd minute sophomore Gillian Hotchkiss, who had numerous shots on net throughout the game that didn’t find their way in the back of the net, fired a shot past Boucher to give Woodland a 3-1 lead.

“We knew that they were going to come out more aggressive in the second half, and they did, it was just one of those things,” Naugatuck coach Sean Dunn said.

The Greyhounds wouldn’t go away quietly facing a 3-1 deficit.

Naugatuck kept the game close in the 79th minute when junior Sara Marques took a pass, and shrugged off a Woodland defender before firing a left-footed rocket past Pannone to close the gap to 3-2.

Casimiro’s penalty kicked sealed the win for Woodland.

Even in defeat, Dunn sees positives in his team moving forward.

“We’re not used to playing against physical teams and they didn’t back down, we also passed the ball better than we have in previous games,” Dunn said.

Naugatuck will visit Torrington Thursday in a game postponed from Wednesday. The Greyhounds host Seymour Friday before visiting Holy Cross Saturday.

Woodland will host St. Paul on Friday before heading to Oxford Monday and Wolcott on Tuesday.