BEACON FALLS — Coming off the most successful season in program history, the Woodland boys soccer team is excited to get back to work to defend their first-ever Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division title.
The Hawks have plenty of players returning from that team but the two most important might form one of the best offensive-defensive tandems in the league—senior forward Eric Dietz and senior defender Adam Baz.
Dietz, an all-state selection who led the NVL in goals last season, and Baz, a vocal leader in the Hawks’ defensive unit, are prepared to work together to replicate the team’s success from 2010.
“We both act as leaders in our positions,” Baz said. “We also play a lot of long balls between the back and our forwards and use his speed that way.”
Dietz added, “It gives us the confidence we need. We know that, since he’s back there, the competition will have the hardest time getting through the back line and getting a shot, let alone a scoring opportunity.”
Dietz was the most prolific goal-scoring threat in the league last season and doesn’t want to change much this year, but he realizes he’ll probably be the focus of opposing defenses.
“I’m basically just going to try what I did last year,” Dietz said. “I’m going to rely on my teammates to do their best. Obviously some of the other teams have heard of me, so I’m going to be using our other forward, Nick LaPerriere, to my advantage.”
Though a number of players are back, the Hawks lost some important pieces from last year’s team, including All-NVL midfielder Tyler Carlos as well as multi-year starters Christian Pinho and Sean Deegan.
Carlos, in particular, will be replaced by several players, according to Baz.
“Mike Segala, Matt Moutinho, and Vigan Pacuku are both playing bigger roles in the midfield to make up for Tyler,” Baz said. “Some of our juniors like Nick LaPerriere at forward and Mike Costa on defense have really been stepping up this year, too.”
The senior-laden Hawks will also rely on forward Lumbardh Pacuku, defenseman Kevin Kozera, midfielder Seth Stevens, and midfielder Richie Vadala. Senior Marc Beaulieu and junior Patrick Dietz also figure to split time as goalkeeper once again.
Head coach Tony Moutinho, who has been at the helm since the start of the program, is looking for big things again out of this group.
“I am expecting to be one of the top teams in the NVL with a squad of mainly seniors,” Moutinho said. “Most of my key players have been playing together since youth soccer and they are a cohesive unit on the field. We have a very strong field formation under the leadership of my four captains (Dietz, Baz, Segala, and Moutinho).”
Baz thinks the team’s success is less about what happens on the field and more of what happens in their mindsets as the leaves change colors.
“It’s all about the attitude,” Baz said. “We have the talent, we just need to be more focused toward the end of the year and play like we really want it.”
The Hawks open the season at home on Tuesday when they host Ansonia at 3:30 p.m. They hit the road to face Sacred Heart on Friday before returning home on Sept. 19 to meet Kennedy.