BEACON FALLS — With just 13 minutes, 24 seconds left to play in his home career, Woodland’s Mike Costa lined up for a free kick at the right corner of the box, his team leading Ansonia 1-0.
Costa unloaded on the kick, rifling it to the left of the defensive wall and bending it inside the left post for his third free-kick goal of the year and the exclamation point on the Hawks’ 2-0 win Monday.
“The keeper came in closer to the near post,” Costa said. “I saw the opportunity out wide and I took it.”
He sure did. All he had to do was blast it as hard as he could, right?
“Essentially, yeah,” Costa said.
Woodland (7-5-2) coach Tony Moutinho leaves the free-kick opportunities to Costa for a reason.
“I think he has one of the best free kicks in the league,” Moutinho said. “He’s the heart of the team. Sometimes he loses his cool a little but he’s the rock on the team.”
Costa’s goal came 10 minutes after Nick LaPerriere put the Hawks in front with a speed-borne goal. Off a pass from Vigas Pacuku, LaPerriere utilized his All-New England track speed and jetted down the left side until he reached the box, where he split a pair of defenders with a touch to his right before clanging it off the bottom of the crossbar and in.
Moutinho thinks LaPerriere, who was hurt early in the year, is peaking at the right time.
“He was hurt at the beginning of the season so it’s taken him a while to get back,” Moutinho said. “But the last few games he’s played well and tonight he showed how he can be one of the best players in the league.”
It took Woodland nearly 57 minutes before it finally lit a number on the football field’s scoreboard. The Hawks had the best of opportunities in the first half but missed each one.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” Moutinho said. “At halftime I told them that this was their last chance to play on this night and they came through in the second half. They’re very resilient. They never give up.”
Woodland’s defense and goalkeeper Pat Dietz withstood an early onslaught by the Chargers in the second half as Dietz made several saves before Scott Seigle headed away another chance in the box.
Dietz, a senior who took over full-time duties between the pipes after sharing them the last two years, made 10 saves.
“It gives us a good feeling on the bench knowing that he’s going to make the save,” Moutinho said. “It gives us flexibility with the defense that we can move them up a little knowing Pat is back there.”
The Hawks, who won their first-ever Naugatuck Valley League championship last season, fell to Watertown in overtime, 2-1, Wednesday. The Hawks qualified for the league tournament over the weekend and will begin play as a lower seed Saturday.
Although Woodland has been inconsistent, it has played competitively with some of the league’s best teams, including a 4-4 tie with Naugatuck.
“We can compete with anybody,” Moutinho said. “We’re glad we’re in the tournament. On any given day we can beat anybody, but we can lose to anyone, too. We never know which team is going to show up. But once they’re focused they can beat anybody.”