WATERBURY — The Woodland boys’ soccer team reaped the consequences of fouls Friday, as Sacred Heart turned a pair of free kicks into goals in a 3-1 defeat of the Hawks.
The Hearts added a score in regular play before the Hawks answered with a free-kick goal of their own in the 70th minute.
Head coach Tony Moutinho chalks it up to defenders failing to set up a proper wall. A standard free kick defense set piece calls for four defenders to line up at least 10 yards from the kicker, forming a proverbial wall aimed at stopping the kick before it gets into dangerous territory. The defense was just “not ready,” Moutinho said.
Moutinho also said the field at Buck’s Hill Park is not a regulation field and is too small to play competently what he calls “control ball”—gameplay that emphasizes controlling possession rather than playing under a kick-and-run philosophy.
Sophomore defender Adam Baz, whom Moutinho called “one of the better players” on the team, scored the Hawks’ lone goal on a free kick after Tyler Carlos was fouled.
The Hawks struggled to finish on any of their numerous balls into Hearts territory, missing crosses, seeing their shots blocked by Hearts keeper Chris Shieffo—who made 11 saves—and getting called out on fouls.
The two teams struck a fair balance in terms of possession, with Sacred Heart maintaining a slight advantage.
The general sentiment from the sidelines seemed to be that the Hearts lived up to their name and simply played with more panache, while the Hawks struggled to gel as a team. Parents and fans lamented the Hawks’ lack of chemistry and the Hearts’ persistence in winning balls.
“We got outplayed by Sacred Heart today; they were the better team on the field,” Moutinho said. “We have to play more as a unit” rather than as a group of “individuals.”
Moutinho said this year’s squad is young and inexperienced and believes that given “a little time to get going” the Hawks will become a “more competitive” team.
The squad now comprises five seniors, five juniors, seven sophomores, and two freshmen. According to Moutinho, they lost 13 seniors last year, including Jesse Menzies, the all-state and all-New-England forward who scored 21 goals over 17 games last year. In the absence of Menzies and other senior talent, Moutinho expects captains Steve Vaz and Tyler Carlos to step up and lead the squad.
The Hawks went 2-0 against Sacred Heart Last year, winning 3-1 away and 5-1 at home.
This year’s loss brought the team to 0-2 after a 5-2 defeat against Ansonia. The Hawks rebounded Monday by shelling Derby, 9-2, a goalfest in which Carlos recorded a hat trick and Vaz scored twice.
They will play Wilby Friday, and Moutinho said the match will be a challenge, as Wilby is an “up-and-coming” team with a new transfer student from Japan, Taiki Mayazato, who’s supposed to be “the real deal.”