BURLINGTON — The Woodland girls’ soccer season ended for the second straight year on Nassahegan Field, the No. 24 Hawks falling Monday to ninth-seeded Lewis Mills, 3-0, in the first round of the Class M state tournament.
The veteran Spartans (13-3-2), who advanced to the state semifinals a year ago and have more juniors and seniors (18) than Woodland (8-8-2) has players (17), didn’t wait long to indicate the contest would be a reprise of 2008. Carly Marenna bopped in a header in the second minute, which proved to be all the offense Mills needed.
In minute 33, the Black and Gold were called for a hand ball in the penalty area, a ruling on which Lindsay Muri capitalized, rippling the net with a penalty kick that gave the home team a 2-0 advantage at the half.
After the break, Woodland, known around the Naugatuck Valley League for its defense, clamped down but couldn’t orchestrate many scoring chances of its own, challenging Mills goalkeeper Lindsay Brown to make only one save. For the match, Mills outshot the Hawks, 13-1.
A late goal by Kaitlyn Kennedy accounted for the final tally.
Though his squad couldn’t improve upon last autumn’s ending, Woodland head coach Joe Fortier said this season was better than he anticipated.
“Going into the season, we looked at what our schedule was, we looked at our inexperience, looked at our goals, and I was saying I would have been very happy with nine [wins], but I was looking at eight as a goal,” he said. “We got eight—we got eight with two ties, so that exceeded expectations.”
Looking ahead to 2010, Woodland will return a strong nucleus: Seven of its starters this season were freshmen and sophomores, and captain Raven Palmerie will be back as well.
“I feel like we came a long way this season,” Palmerie said. “I think next year, we’re going to be even better. We can’t use the excuse that we’re a young team anymore. I think we’re going to go a long way next year. I think we’re ready.”