By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
BEACON FALLS — After a tough opening-season loss to Ansonia when Woodland was outscored by eight in the fourth quarter of a game that was decided in overtime, the Hawks showed the type of grit late in their next two games that head coach Jess Moffo likes to see.
The Hawks outscored Oxford 15-8 in the fourth quarter on Feb. 20 to pull away with a 51-40 victory. The Hawks rallied against Seymour on Feb. 24 and outscored the Wildcats 19-11 in the fourth, but fell short, 61-58.
“That has been our problem the past few years, giving games away at the end,” Moffo said. “We lost a game in Ansonia that we should have won but lost in overtime. So it was nice to see us come on in the fourth quarter in our next game.”
“We had another strong last quarter against a very tough Seymour team,” she added. “The grit, the hard work and the dedication the girls have shown will help us in the long run. Seymour was up by 15 at one point, but our girls never quit and we actually got the lead back with three minutes left.”
The Hawks (1-2) recognized their two seniors, Ava DeLucia (10 points) and Samantha Benanto (2 points), as they celebrated senior night against Seymour.
DeLucia has been solid all season for the Hawks, as has Kylie Bulinski, who scored 10 points against Oxford and another 12 against Seymour.
“Kylie is a real physical player and brings a toughness I haven’t seen in a long time,” Moffo said. “She has really set the tone on defense. Getting Andra (Bojka) back after being injured in the season opener has been huge for us. She scored seven points against Seymour and had a couple of big steals for us.”
“Last year some of these players were still learning how to play at the varsity level,” Moffo added. “Now we can see the development of Riley Kane, Gabby Mastropietro and Bulinski. They are playing with confidence, especially late in the games, and feel they can win.”
The play of freshman Casey Mulligan has been a huge asset for the Hawks. Mulligan scored a season-high 23 points against Seymour after back-to-back, 12-point performances to start the season.
“We are really excited about the play of Casey (Mulligan),” Moffo said. “She is really developing into a solid player for us.”
With little time to regroup between games in a pandemic-shortened season, Moffo said the focus is to get better each day.
“I like our passion and the way we have been playing down the stretch and looking forward to having that turn into games in the win column,” she said.
Woodland is scheduled to play Torrington on Feb. 26, Wolcott on March 2 and Oxford on March 3. The Hawks are set to host Torrington on March 5 and Oxford on March 8, before heading to Seymour on March 9.