WATERTOWN – The Woodland boys’ soccer team was able to hold off a ferocious offensive attack by Watertown for a half during Monday’s Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinals at the Mills Complex in Watertown, but the Indians broke through with three goals in the second half for a 3-0 win.
Goalkeeper Marc Beaulieu had his work cut out for him, seemingly having no break from Watertown’s onslaught. If Beaulieu made one save, he would almost invariably face a rebound opportunity that, more often than not, proved to be too tough to knock away.
Beaulieu made several impressive saves in the first half, helping to repel two corner kick chances by the Indians and, at one point, making three saves on shots from point-blank range to keep the game a scoreless tie headed into the half.
Woodland may have had the best scoring opportunity in the first 40 minutes of the game when, with just 10 seconds to play in the first half, Christian Pinho found Eric Dietz at the top of the six-yard box. But Dietz had the ball knocked away by a diving Watertown goalkeeper to preserve the 0-0 score.
But the Hawks were unable to hold off the Indians much longer into the second half as Watertown got on the board in the 46th minute on a goal by Nick Polletta. Beaulieu again made the initial save but Polletta crashed the box to put home the game’s first goal.
Woodland coach Tony Moutinho said that was the breaking point for his team.
“They scored once and we gave up,” Moutinho said. “We’re not good at coming from behind to win. We’re better at getting ahead and holding on. We had our chances and didn’t capitalize on them. They were a better team than us today.”
The Brass Division champions allowed two more goals over the next 20 minutes, including another shot off a rebounded save made by Beaulieu. Moutinho praised the work of his goalie for a good performance in a tough situation.
“Marc played well,” Moutinho said. “He kept us in the game for a while. He made the original saves but was just a little unlucky afterwards.”
Despite the loss, the Hawks were able to take positives away from their performance thus far. Woodland won its first boys’ soccer championship of any kind by going undefeated in the Brass to win the division crown and advanced to the NVL tournament semifinals for the first time. Another first for the Hawks is on the horizon—a home state playoff game in Class M, which Moutinho hopes will bring Woodland’s first-ever state playoff victory.
“Let’s hope we build on everything so far,” Moutinho said. “We’ll put this behind us. It’s very possible that we win our first state game. This year we’re definitely hoping to do it. It would be disappointing if we don’t get a win.”
The first round of the Class M state tournament is Nov. 8.