TORRINGTON >> Injuries and lack of depth caught up with the Red Raider girls soccer team (7-3-1) against a strong Woodland team (7-2-1) at Torrington High School Tuesday afternoon.
The Hawks won 3-2 for part of the Naugatuck Valley League lead in what had been a three-way tie with Watertown.
Torrington’s Taylor Pestritto and Woodland’s Megan Lynch traded early long scoring shots; then numbers began to catch up with the Raiders, along with Woodland’s speed.
A goal by Jessica Rodrigues gave the Hawks the first-half lead. Then a penalty kick two minutes into the second half seemed to slam the door on Torrington chances.
“Torrington alway works hard,” said Woodland coach Cait Witham. “At certain points they out-worked us. That’s when their goals came.”
The Raiders’ first goal came on a re-start 11 minutes into the game after the Hawks had already skimmed a shot off the top of the crossbar and bounced a dangerous ball through the Torrington box.
After the Woodland foul, 20 yards out, to the right of the goal, Pestritto’s direct shot sailed over senior goalkeeper Erika Tyrell’s head into the far corner of the net.
Lynch tied it four minutes later, whistling a left-foot shot past sophomore Torrington keeper Kasey Roscello from the top of the box on a pass from Shae Geary.
Roscello stepped into the net last week after junior starter Taylor Howe went down with a concussion in a 1-1 tie with non-conference opponent New Fairfield.
Woodland’s Jessica Rodrigues broke Tuesday’s tie 28 minutes into the game on a pass from Lynch, 15 yards to the left of the goal, 2-1.
Early in the second half , the penalty kick by Geary followed an inadvertent trip in the Torrington box.
At 3-1, Woodland, Torrington’s chances dimmed.
Late in the first half and, for much of the second, the Hawks seemed just one perfect serve away from another score on several occasions.
“We do well when we get the ball wide,” said Witham. “We dominated the second half because we stuck to the game plan.”
The style often found a girl unmarked on the far side of the field when the Hawks crossed from one side of the field to the other on the attack.
Just as significantly, it wears out a team without plenty of reserves to rest the starters’ legs.
Add the psychological impact of the penalty kick opening a 3-1 gap. There seemed reason for lack of second-half hope.
“The penalty kick gave a whole new perspective to the game,” said Torrington coach Mario Longobucco.
The Hawks had possession for much of the half. The Raiders never gave up.
“We showed a lot of gumption,” said Longobucco.
Sometimes even too much.
Paige Middleton had to sit for five minutes after mis-timing a race for the ball with keeper Tyrell, inadvertently knocking her down.
Witham ordered her team to try to slow the pace.
The Raiders kept on.
Four minutes from the end of the game, Middleton carried the ball up the center of the field. She led Olivia Morrison, ahead on her right, with a perfect pass. Morrison pumped her shot in stride from 10 yards right of the post. It caught the far corner, 3-2.
With four minutes left, it was the Hawks trying to hold on.
“Everything is a clear!” Witham hollered to her team.
The Raiders pressed hard. With a minute left, one last-gasp Torrington chance seemed almost pre-destined as a book-end goal for the game.
Pestritto lined up for another re-start, 20 yards out to the right of the Woodland goal again.
This time, the shot was over the net. Torrington was out of time.
“We may see them again in the (NVL) tournament,” said Longobucco. “I think we can play with these teams.”
Woodland 3, Torrington 2
At Torrington High School
Woodland 2 1-3
Torrington 1 1-2
Goals: W-Megan Lynch; Jessica Rodrigues; Shae Geary. T-Taylor Pestritto; Olivia Morrison. Assists: W-Geary; Lynch. T-Paige Middleton. Shots: 15-10 Woodland. Saves: W-Erika Tyrell 2. T-Kasey Roscello 5.
Records: Woodland 7-2-1; Torrington 7-3-1.