BEACON FALLS – On a chilly, overcast Tuesday afternoon, the Woodland girls’ soccer team proved victorious over Enfield, winning, 3-1, in the Hawks’ first-round match in the Class M state tournament.
“The last time we were able to win a state game was four years ago, so it’s nice,” said Woodland coach Joe Fortier. “The key to winning this game today was taking advantage of [Enfield’s] mistakes.”
Woodland entered the tournament at 9-5-2, earning them the No. 14 seed in the Class M bracket, while the Raiders entered as the No. 19 seed with a record of 9-6-1.
The first half saw a quick goal–only five minutes into the game—by Stephanie Dumond. Dumond scored again two-thirds of the way through the second half, and almost for a third time with about eight minutes left in the game.
“In the past we had some tough times finishing on our offensive side,” Fortier said. “Today, in the first half, they outplayed us actually, but we were able to take advantage of their one mistake and score a goal. And the second half we were again able to capitalize and take advantage of their mistakes to score two more goals and win the game.”
The Hawks’ third and final goal, made by Keri DeBiase, followed hot on the heels of Dumond’s second goal, while Enfield’s only goal was made far too late in the game by captain Megan Thompson after a kick from the corner.
“It’s hard to stay motivated so late in the season, especially now that it’s getting so cold and there is so much going on,” said Fortier, highlighting perhaps another factor that was key to winning this game: Endurance.
The combination of the bitter chill and physicality of the game play—multiple collisions and tough contact throughout—proved difficult and demanded a lot from players on both sides.
Noteworthy also was the scrappy, persistently aware goaltending by Alma Rizvani. Rizvani saves for the game numbered in the double digits and her aggressive attitude kept Enfield’s players on their toes while they struggled to get anything past her.
As for Woodland’s future in the tournament, Fortier remained sober, but hopeful and determined at the same time.
“We’re going to have to play one of the top teams in the state next, Joel Barlow, and they’re 13-0-1,” Fortier said. “We’ll be playing them in Redding, so we’re playing a top team with home advantage in a state tournament game. We just got to try and keep the momentum going. To have confidence, that’s the key. If we’re going to stay competitive we’re going to have to stay confident and that’s what matters. Whoever is more confident is going to be the better team and that’s who’s going to win.”
The second-round game against the third-seeded Joel Barlow Falcons, which is coming off their win against Bunnell to take the SouthWest Conference championship, was scheduled for Nov. 11. Check mycitizensnews.com for details on the rest of the Hawks’ tournament run.