WATERTOWN — The fifth and final Woodland penalty kick glanced off the right post and the Naugatuck girls soccer team raced out onto the field to embrace goalkeeper Kaitlin Carter in celebration as the Greyhounds head to their fourth straight Naugatuck Valley League title game following the 1-0 (PK 2-1) victory in Saturday’s semifinal at Watertown High School.
No. 2 Naugatuck (13-4) and No. 3 Woodland (12-3-3) went at each other for 100 minutes and the scoreboard clock still had zeros on it.
After near misses, point-blank shots that rattled off the posts, and a fistful of jersey defense this battle would be decided by penalty kicks.
Woodland defeated Naugatuck, 2-0, in the regular season but the performance of the goalkeepers, Carter (eight saves) and the Hawks’ Alma Rizvani (19 saves), was sensational.
Woodland had several early opportunities in front of the Greyhounds’ goal but the defense of Isabella Verrilli, Taylor Campos, Emma Colucci, and Katie Bottinick kept the ball out of harm’s way.
“It was just a matter of trying to contain Steph Dumond,” Naugatuck head coach Sean Dunn said. “We worked on trying to keep her out of her shooting area. If she gets that breakaway opportunity it can be lethal.”
It took Naugatuck 12 minutes into the first half to gain its first possession into Woodland territory. But the defensive presence of Andrea Piccolo, Kelly Sherman, Jamie Minoski and Kelly Boucher harassed the Greyhounds’ attackers.
Naugy did hold a distinctive advantage in the second half with time of possession as the ‘Hounds riddled the Hawks’ net with shots, holding a 17-7 edge at the end of regulation.
“I think Naugatuck is a more physical team than us and it kind of wore us down as the game went along,” Woodland head coach Joe Fortier said. “We were not able to create our shots like we did in the first half.”
Still, after 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods, it came down to five penalty kicks by each teams.
Alaina Nedderman, Riley Shaw, Kelly Boucher, Steph Dumond and Keri DeBiase kicked for the Hawks, while Kelly Koslosky, Verrilli, Isabelle Moody, Bottinick and Katarina Gullotta took Naugatuck’s kicks.
Koslosky drilled a shot to the left post that made it past Rizvani’s dive to give Naugatuck a 1-0 edge.
After two misses and an incredible Rizvani save, Boucher wound up and fired one to the top left corner to tie it up at 1-1.
On the next kick, Moody lined up the far right post and slammed it to the back of the net for a 2-1 Naugatuck lead after three kicks.
It came down to the final two kicks each and both times the Woodland shots hit the post and bounded away, along with the team’s chances of playing for the NVL title.
“It’s tough to have it decided with PKs but a few inches here or there and we might still be kicking,” Fortier said. “I thought we gutted it out real well and now we have to go back and focus for the states coming up.”
The Hawks will be approximately the No. 9 seed in the Class M tournament and will host a first-round match on Thursday.