Woodland responds with opening-round win

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 Woodland’s Maribella Sousa (25) and Gillian Hotchkiss (16) close in on Windham’s Jamey Martyn (9) Monday during the first round of the Class M tournament in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-0. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Maribella Sousa (25) and Gillian Hotchkiss (16) close in on Windham’s Jamey Martyn (9) Monday during the first round of the Class M tournament in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-0. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The Woodland girls soccer team wanted the Class M state tournament to start in the worst way so it could get the taste of a Naugatuck Valley League tournament loss to Naugatuck out of its collective mouth.

The eighth-seeded Hawks replaced that bitterness with a sweet taste Monday as they knocked off No. 25 Windham, 2-0, in first-round action. They advanced to the second round and will take on No. 9 Plainfield at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Beacon Falls.

“We wanted to definitely prove that we’re still a very good team,” Woodland senior captain Audra Blewitt said. “We came in with the mindset that the past is the past and we have to prove ourselves all over again.”

Blewitt took less than 3 minutes to put the Hawks in front when she received a pass from Marisa Macek while standing atop the 18-yard box. She controlled the ball and stepped into a looping blast, which floated over goalkeeper Jillian Fernandez for the 1-0 lead.

“I saw it was open and they were very bunched in the middle,” Blewitt said. “I figured I’d wing it and take a shot, and it went in.”

Woodland (13-5-1) padded its lead with 17:25 to play in the first half when Jess Rodrigues played a cross to the back left post, where Megan Lynch punched in a ball that dribbled past Fernandez for a 2-0 advantage.

Woodland’s Rosalina Santos, left, and Windham’s Mariah Gonzalez race for control of the ball Monday during the first round of the Class M tournament in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-0. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Rosalina Santos, left, and Windham’s Mariah Gonzalez race for control of the ball Monday during the first round of the Class M tournament in Beacon Falls. Woodland won the game, 2-0. –LUKE MARSHALL

After that, the Hawks’ defense took over. They allowed only one shot by Windham, and Woodland keeper Erika Tyrrell was there for the easy stop. Possession found itself in Woodland’s attacking end of the field almost all afternoon and Windham never mounted a serious threat.

“The defense was phenomenal today,” Blewitt said. “They’ve found their groove throughout the season. They didn’t allow any through balls and we gained possession most of the time. We made sure passes were to our teammates and we ran through every single ball.”

Should the Hawks knock off Plainfield in Wednesday’s second round, they would advance to Friday’s quarterfinals for the second straight year. Woodland bowed out to Rocky Hill in last year’s quarters, and this season’s matchup would be against either top seed Lewis Mills or No. 16 Weston.

“We’re going to try to go as far as we can to redeem ourselves from NVLs,” Blewitt said. “We don’t want this season to end so we’re going to play these games like they’re our last, because for us seniors they might be.”