Woodland girls bow out of tourney


BEACON FALLS — After being pleasantly surprised by regular-season success, Woodland High girls soccer coach Cait Witham had high expectations for her Hawks during the postseason.

Instead, Woodland bowed out early in state tournament play last week.

Despite relatively even possession throughout the match, No. 12 Cromwell used a pair of first-half goals and a 50-yard second-half scoring strike to knock off No. 5 Woodland, 3-0, last Thursday in the Class M state tournament second round.

“They finished and we didn’t,” Witham said.

Woodland (16-4), the Naugatuck Valley League’s top team during the regular season before suffering an upset defeat to St. Paul in the conference semifinals, went toe-to-toe with the Panthers for most of the first half. With about 5 minutes before the break, Cromwell’s Jenna Serrantino chipped a shot over the Hawks’ Alanna Carasone for a 1-0 edge.

Cromwell’s Olivia Belcourt backed down Carasone just 3 minutes later and scored to make it 2-0, and the Panthers’ Erika Person drilled a direct kick from 50 yards out midway through the second half to account for the final margin.

“For the first half, we were actually the aggressors,” Witham said. “For once, we didn’t shy away from physicality like we sometimes do. Even going down 3-nil, we maintained possession for the majority of the game. The problem is that when they went to set pieces, a kid hits a bomb from 50 yards out, (but) we have a corner kick that we can’t put in.”

Woodland’s best scoring chance came with 26:35 left in the second half, when Haley Andrews’ header off a corner kick clanged off the left post. Cromwell cleared out of bounds, fended off the next corner and had no issue keeping the Hawks at bay for the rest of the afternoon.

Cromwell suffered a 2-1 defeat in the quarterfinals to No. 20 Berlin.

The Hawks next season will bring back some of their key players, but they’ll also graduate Haley Andrews, Megen Sirowich, Kerrigan Shaw, Shannon Pruzinsky, Alexis Mierek, Eliza Smith, Maeve Kennelly and Briana Iannicelli.

Witham recapped the season as one that surpassed her expectations for the first two months but fell a little short at the end.

“I think we finished the regular season better than I had anticipated,” she said. “I didn’t anticipate us only having two losses in the regular season. In the postseason, we didn’t do quite as well as I would have thought given the way we played in the regular season. It was a little bit of an underachievement.”