Week 3: Centaurs prevail over Wildcats in OT, tie Warriors
It’s always a dogfight when the Woodstock Academy and Norwich Free Academy girls soccer teams are on the same field.
Such was the case last week with the Centaurs just pulling out a 3-2 victory in overtime over the Wildcats in Norwich.
“I feel like the way it’s gone for us against them recently, it’s a really good accomplishment for us to catch up to them in intensity and the way we want to play. It was a good confidence builder for us to stay in a good spot in the (Eastern Connecticut Conference) Division I standings,” Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling said of the victory.
NFA and Woodstock Academy tied in their first meeting last season on the Centaurs home field and it was the Wildcats who prevailed, 2-1, in Norwich.
The Centaurs raised their record to 2-1 in the division and, with a 1-1 tie against non-league foe, Valley Regional Saturday, are now 2-3-1 overall.
Bella Mawson was the hero of the night for Woodstock Academy in Norwich.
She scored the game winner for the Centaurs with 3 minutes, 38 seconds left in the second overtime.
“It was just full intensity and everybody was working as a team. Leah (Costa) had an amazing through-ball and the (NFA) goalie came out and I just went right around her and put it in the back of the net. I was so happy. It was an amazing feeling at the end of the game,” Mawson said.
It was the second goal of the season for Mawson.
“It’s good to have the midfield and different players scoring. Bella, as a sophomore, is gaining confidence and scoring goals from the midfield. It was a game-winning goal in an important situation, it was great for her and great for the team,” Snelling said.
The two teams were scoreless at the half but NFA found its way on to the scoreboard quickly in the second half, putting the ball into the net just 20 seconds in.
The 1-0 lead held for the next 24 minutes for NFA until Woodstock Academy senior Grace Gelhaus scored her fifth goal of the year.
NFA answered four minutes later to re-take the lead but Costa got her second goal of the season with 3:58 left to force the 20-minute overtime.
“To come back twice and eventually win is a good show of character for everybody,” Snelling said.
The Saturday contest was part of the Homecoming celebration at Woodstock Academy and it started out looking like an offensive showcase.
The two teams each scored in the first 12 minutes of the contest.
That, however, was it.
“It was one of those games where they decided they were going to play really defensive against us. They didn’t have the speed to keep up in the back so they kept a lot of players back. That made it harder for the attack to get through and we had to shoot from further out which made it easier on their goalie,” Snelling said.
The Warriors (2-0-3) struck first when Reagan Doyon took a long feed from the left side on the far post and she was able to convert just 9 minutes, 17 seconds into the contest.
Woodstock Academy almost tied it within moments when Gelhaus fired a shot off the crossbar.
“That one went through the crossbar almost,” Snelling said with a laugh. “I always thought that if the ball hit the crossbar on the round post, it was supposed to go in. That didn’t happen (Saturday). Grace had a lot of chances that she may have been frustrated about, but no one else would get those chances.”
But just 2:17 after Doyon scored for Valley Regional, Costa tallied for Woodstock Academy on a nice strike from about 22 yards out.
From there on, it was a defensive match.
“Our defense had a good shape to it. We were able to switch the field a lot more than we had been. Freya (Robbie), Macy (Rawson), Magda (Myslenski) and Haley (Whitehouse) all do a good job in the back and that’s why we’re getting better,” Snelling said.
Robbie thought the team, as a whole, played well.
Especially the defense, which had to hold steadfast as the ball just refused to go into the net.
“We had a lot of good communication in the back and worked really well together. We were covering each other as a unit and talking with each other. We had a pretty good game,” Robbie said.