BEACON FALLS — It was Woodland’s first goal of the season—Nick LaPerriere’s strike from the top of the box just a minute into the game—but teammate Eric Dietz wasn’t impressed.
“I thought it was a pretty luck goal myself,” Dietz joked. “But it got our momentum going. That’s what we needed for the rest of the game.”
Dietz and the rest of the Hawks capitalized upon the momentum as the senior forward scored two goals while LaPerriere and Vigan Pacuku added one each as the defending Naugatuck Valley League Brass Division champion started its title defense with a 4-0 victory over Ansonia Tuesday afternoon in Beacon Falls.
LaPerriere and Dietz, who could be the fastest and most prolific goal-scoring forwards in the league this season, showed off their track-star speed throughout the game as they ran past defenders to gain open looks at the goal.
Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho knows what to expect from Dietz, the NVL’s leading scorer last season, but LaPerriere is proving to be the perfect complement up front.
“He’s our second man to go to,” Moutinho said. “He’s a track star so we’re going to use that to our advantage with the long ball to keep the tempo going.”
LaPerriere’s goal put the Hawks (1-0) ahead, 1-0, in the first minute of the game and was a sign of things to come for Woodland. Twenty minutes later, Vigan Pacuku had a shot clang off the left upper-90 before rebounding with a strike that found the net for a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, LaPerriere hooked up with Dietz on a crossing pass from the right side of the box to give Dietz a clean look at his first goal of the season.
After missing a number of other chances throughout the rest of the first half and into the second, Dietz took a lob with 12 minutes left in the game and easily scored again on a one-on-one opportunity.
The Hawks’ defense was as strong as Moutinho had hoped, as the veteran back line helped Woodland keep possession while goalkeepers Marc Beaulieu and Patrick Dietz combined to make 10 saves. Dietz made seven of those saves in the second half, including several which sent him sprawling to preserve the shutout.
“With Adam [Baz] in back and Mike [Costa] in front of him, we should be able to shut people down,” Moutinho said of the team’s defense. “Both of our goalies are experienced, so I can go to either one of them and not feel like there’s a letdown.”
The dominating opening-day victory over Ansonia (0-1), which is considered one of the stronger teams in the league, is encouraging for the Hawks.
“It shows that we have a very strong team and that we’re ready to take on anyone in the NVL,” Dietz said.
“We’re ready to win,” Moutinho said. “This was a good team we played today. We got the breaks today but overall we had a good game. We used our speed up front to take advantage, our midfielders controlled the tempo, and the defense shut the door on them.”
Woodland next travels to Sacred Heart on Friday afternoon before returning home to face Kennedy on Monday. The Hawks get their first taste of night soccer next Wednesday with a 6:30 p.m. game at Torrington.