Hawks turn up the heat

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Woodland’s Savannah Aviz (26) battles Ansonia’s Ursula Kirejczyk for control of the ball Tuesday in Beacon Falls. The Hawks beat Ansonia 3-0 and have won nine of their last 10 games. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Savannah Aviz (26) battles Ansonia’s Ursula Kirejczyk for control of the ball Tuesday in Beacon Falls. The Hawks beat Ansonia 3-0 and have won nine of their last 10 games. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The Hawks used two late goals to pull away from Ansonia on Tuesday afternoon 3-0 at Woodland for their ninth win in the last 10 games.

Three different players scored for the Hawks (13-3) as Woodland kept pressure on the opposing side of the field for nearly the entire game, a mantra coach Cait Witham preaches to her team.

“We play possession soccer and we did a good job with that today. We had a lot of opportunities on net, but we need to finish much better,” Witham said.

Two minutes into the game, Ansonia’s (5-8) starting goalie collapsed with a knee injury, which put all the pressure on backup goalkeeper, Maize Maldonado, who faced a flurry of shots early and often.

The Hawks struck in the 26th minute. Megan Lynch took a pass from Maribella Sousa outside the box, dribbled to her left and was one-on-one with Maldonado, who dove to her right, where Lynch kicked it and knocked the ball in the net.

“I kept my head up and knew we needed to shoot to the corners, so I did that and it went in,” Lynch said.

Maldonado did her best to prevent the Hawks from scoring far more than they did, as she collected almost 20 saves on the afternoon, most on direct kicks to her.

“Our shots were right at the goalie the majority of the time and we can’t do that. We did it too much today and it didn’t create the scoring opportunities we needed,” Witham said.

With shots flying on net by the dozen, Woodland was able to keep the pressure on the Chargers’ defense.

The Hawks carried a 1-0 into the second half where the flurry of shots on net continued. The Hawks put 15 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes with two of them reaching the back of the net late to put the game away.

With 8 minutes left Savanah Aviz fired a shot from distance past a diving Maldonado to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead, sealing their victory.

Ninety seconds remained on the clock when Samantha Plasky took a pass through the legs of defenders from junior Alexa Casimiro and found the back of the net to cap the 3-0 win.

With three games remaining in the regular season before the Naugatuck Valley League tournament, the Hawks sit among the top four teams in the standings for the tournament. The Hawks have won nine of their last 10 games, but coach Witham knows their record doesn’t matter much come the postseason.

“It all comes down to who plays the best in the tournament, so I’m a little worried about that and getting excited about our record when we all know it doesn’t mean much,” Witham said.

Woodland will look to keep the momentum rolling against NVL Iron Division opponent Watertown, who is one of the few teams ahead of them in the overall standings at the moment.

The Hawks will face the Indians Friday at 3:30 p.m. in Watertown. Woodland closes out the regular season Oct. 20 on the road against Derby and Oct. 22 at home versus Seymour for senior night.

Woodland firing on all cylinders

BEACON FALLS — With the Naugatuck Valley League tournament a week away, the Woodland girls soccer team has hit its stride.

The Hawks (13-3) have outscored their last 10 opponents 42-8, winning nine of those games.

Coach Cait Witham sees a lot of heart from her team, including a quality that she is not even able to teach them in practice on a daily basis.

“These girls don’t give up. When they are down one or two goals, it’s easy for teammates to start getting on one another because it’s natural, but they don’t,” Witham said.

Woodland’s Alexa Casimiro (17) kicks the ball up field past Ansonia’s Brittany Dainiak (6) Tuesday in Beacon Falls. The Hawks beat Ansonia 3-0 and have won nine of their last 10 games. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Alexa Casimiro (17) kicks the ball up field past Ansonia’s Brittany Dainiak (6) Tuesday in Beacon Falls. The Hawks beat Ansonia 3-0 and have won nine of their last 10 games. –LUKE MARSHALL

Their only loss over the last 10 matches came against Oxford on Oct. 6 in a 2-1 decision on the road, where Witham’s game plan of possession soccer wasn’t executed well enough to avoid falling.

Part of their recent success can be attributed to their opponents’ lack of being able to find their groove offensively because the Hawks do such a good job controlling the ball in their opponent’s half of the field.

Sophomore goalkeeper Jenna Pannone sees more chemistry on the field than earlier in the season, making her life much easier in the net.

“We’re definitely connecting with one another better on the field and talking much more,” Pannone said. “We’re finding the back of the net much more often and it’s helping a lot.”

Senior Megan Lynch has noticed something in her team that may explain their recent success as well.

“Playing through the middle has helped us when we’re able to hit the outside-mids and then work our way back into the middle of the field has been a huge factor for us,” Lynch said.

With three games left in the season, the Hawks are poised to secure a top spot in the NVL tournament.