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Week 5: Centaurs at the .500 mark with win over Windham

The Woodstock Academy boys soccer team got a nice midseason reset.

After a 2-1 win over Windham Wednesday, the Centaurs are off until Thursday, Oct. 13 when they travel to play Norwich Free Academy.

“It’s much needed,” said acting head coach Jason Tata. “In the five games we’ve played since (head coach) Paul (Rearden) has been gone, we’ve been through the wringer. Tough road games against Stonington and Berlin and we’re just in need of a nice little break and a nice little reset.”

Rearden left the team due to a family emergency.

It’s a reset in two ways.

In addition to the time off, the Centaurs are back at the .500 mark, 4-4-2, after the victory over the previously undefeated Whippets.

“It’s a great feeling. When you fall behind that early in the record book all you can do is keep chipping away to get back to .500. It just feels like a reset. A new season starts now and we’re 0-0,” Tata said.

The Centaurs had problems finding the net in the first half of the season, getting only six goals in their first eight matches.

They remedied that a bit in their two matches this week.

Woodstock Academy put a season high three goals on the board against Valley Regional Monday and downed the Warriors 3-1.

Tata told senior Quin Sangasy to go "hunt" for the ball when he sent him back out on to the field in the second half of the Centaurs match with the Warriors.

"It makes me look like a good coach when I say, 'Quin, go find the ball, sniff it out and put it in the back of the net,'" Tata said.

That's because Sangasy listened.

With 23 minutes, 38 seconds left in the match, Sangasy broke in from the left and directed a cross from John Bennett into the Warriors net to guarantee the Centaurs the win.

It was the first career goal for the Woodstock Academy senior.

"I made a good run after I got put in and he told me just to run as hard as I could and that's what I did. John B made a really good run, a really good pass and I just knocked it in," Sangasy said.

The team, as a whole, was just glad to put some goals on the board.

"We haven't scored a lot of goals in the last four games so it was really good to score that many," senior captain Noah Page said.

The match, played on a chilly and blustery afternoon, didn't start out the way Woodstock Academy had hoped.

The Warriors, who allowed 34 goals in their first seven matches, got on the board first when Jake McKenna, who was robbed of a goal by a beautiful kick save by Centaurs keeper Brian Jameson just 10 minutes earlier, benefitted from a run down the right side by teammate Nathan Crown.

Crown battled from the defensive side to deep into the offensive end before he got a pass to McKenna who found the back of the net with 9:02 left in the first half.

Fortunately for the Centaurs, the answer would come just over a minute later when Austin Byer, off the rebound of a shot from Owen Tracy, scored the equalizer.

"I read them the riot act at halftime," Tata admitted. "We came out flat, under-estimated our opponent and that's what happens- it turns into a trap game,"the Woodstock Academy coach said.

So Tata let his offensive players loose in the second half.

The Centaurs allowed Valley Regional only two second half shots, both coming late, while getting 10 of their own.

Page delivered the tiebreaker and what proved to be the game-winner with 28:27 left when he was awarded a direct kick from just outside the 18-yard box.

"I don't have much to say about it except that I was aiming for it and it went in," Page said with a laugh.

The draw off his right foot fell just inside the far post for his first goal of the season.

Sangasy then added the insurance five minutes later.

"We needed that one," Tata said with a shake of his head of the victory. "After that tough Berlin game (1-0 loss the Thursday before), we needed to bounce back. We lost all the momentum we got from the win over Stonington and it's kind of hard to pick that back up."

Windham, which came in to the Wednesday match with a 6-0-1 record, kept the Centaurs in check for much of the first half.

The Centaurs had only four shots in the first half but the last one did find the net.

Bennett sent in a nice ball from a corner kick opportunity, kicking it from the right back to the left, and finding the head of Page.

The senior knocked it home with just 16 seconds left in the first half.

“It was perfect,” Tata said of Bennett’s corner. “That’s what JB does. It seems like every match, he punts in a beautiful, serviceable cross and we finally got a head on one and put it into the back of the net.”

Just two minutes into the second half, the Centaurs struck again.

On a counter attack, Jeff Phongsa took the ball down the left side and popped it over the defense and on to the foot of Byer.

The sophomore put in his fourth goal of the season to ensure the Woodstock Academy win.

It was necessary as the Whippets did come up with a goal.

Windham put one into the Centaurs net with 15 minutes left in the match but Woodstock Academy held on.