BERLIN >> Already down a game, Foran blew a six-point lead in a Game 2 loss to Woodland in the Class M state championship match on Saturday.
But the Lions didn’t quit.
Foran rallied and took Game 3 to keep its season alive. But it wasn’t enough, as Woodland captured Game 4 to win its first state title in school history 3-1 (25-15, 25-23, 23-25, 25-15) at Berlin High.
Foran coach Julie Johnson said her team showed heart.
“I think we showed some toughness after being down two games and coming back and winning the third game,” Johnson said. “We could’ve just sat down and died. Even that last game, I think we could’ve won.”
However, it was the Hawks who would walk away with the title to close a season in which they won the Naugatuck Valley League championship and posted 11 regular-season sweeps. Woodland senior Brianna Pacileo, the tournament MVP, said she still couldn’t believe how well the season went.
“This is a great ending to a great season,” Pacileo said. “We ended up winning the Naugatuck Valley League championship, then we came through and pulled all the way to the state final game. It’s so surreal.”
Pacileo, who said she is still undecided on a college, finished with 21 kills and 12 digs and Samantha Lee had 27 assists and seven digs.
For Foran, senior Fallon Bevino had 12 kills and junior Janae Owen added nine.
Johnson is now faced with the reality of losing eight seniors, but she was proud of the effort they gave to cap their careers.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Johnson said. “They really love each other and care about each other. They’re going to be missed.”
And they came close to leaving with a title.
Foran opened Game 2 with a 6-0 run and staved off the Hawks as long as it could, even leading 20-17, before Woodland took the game and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
“It’s a game of runs,” Johnson said. “We go on runs and they go on runs. That happens every game with us.”
Foran got back in it in Game 3, rallying from down 13-7 to win the game 25-23 and extend the match. Pacileo said fixable mistakes caused the Hawks to drop Game 3.
“The thing about making errors is we know how to correct them,” she said. “We pushed through it and just played our game.”
The Hawks pushed through the fourth game a little easier, winning 25-15 and closing with a 7-0 run.
Woodland lost in last season’s Class M final, earning the second-place silver plaque. Woodland coach Jim Amato said this season, the Hawks were going for the first-place gold.
“We got here last year and the outcome wasn’t as planned,” Amato said. “We needed another map of Connecticut. We just needed it in a different color.”