The start of the season for the Woodstock Academy girls’ lacrosse team has been a good one.
The Centaurs came into the game April 28 against Valley Regional with four straight wins to start the season.
“We were ecstatic about that and we still have the goal of making the (Eastern Connecticut Conference) tournament for the first time in the history of the program,” said coach Kathleen Johnson.
That battle begins this week when the Centaurs play league games against Griswold, St. Bernard and Waterford.
The Centaurs did stumble against the Warriors who do possess a talented freshman in Tory Rider. She scored eight goals and dished out three assists in a 17-11 Valley Regional win over The Academy at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
The Centaurs held the lead early and often in the first half when goals were being traded like stocks on Wall Street.
In a span of just 3 minutes, 25 seconds of the first half, the two teams combined for eight goals. Ivy Gelhaus tied the match at three with a goal. The only senior on the squad Madison Brennan scored her second goal of the game and ninth of the season to put the Centaurs up by a goal and Arielle Johnson added her 13th of the year to make it 5-3.
But Rider scored the next three for the Warriors to put Valley Regional back on top.
Emma Green tied it for the Centaurs and freshman Bridget Horst put them up at the half, 7-6, with one of her three goals in the game.
The Warriors scored the first five goals of the second half to steal the momentum from the Centaurs (4-1).
The Centaurs have also been very good on the draw this season, Valley Regional tended to dominate in that facet of the game in the second half.
“We’ve had a lot of success on the draw, but we didn’t have as much draw control,” said Kathleen Johnson.
Earlier in the week, the Centaurs downed Ledyard, 13-7. Horst and Arielle Johnson each scored four goals in the win while Brennan added two and freshman keeper Kileigh Gagnon made nine saves.
Boys adjusting
It’s never easy when coaches change.
It’s even tougher when those coaching changes are more the rule than the exception.
Mike Noel is hoping to change that culture at The Woodstock Academy.
“In listening to the players, the constant change is the big hurdle to get over. There is no consistency and we need to get back to that. We’re working on that. I want these players to know that I’m going to be around. I’m not going anywhere. I live in this town, I’ve got kids in this town and we’re going to build a program here,” said Noel.
It won’t happen overnight.
After a 9-4 loss to Ellington April 26, the Centaurs dropped to 2-4 on the season.
“Two of those losses, I’m a little disappointed in,” Noel said. “I think we’re better than that. I think this was a typical game for us and there is no reason why we can’t compete in a game like this every time.”
The Centaurs competed with the Purple Knights pretty well for the first 24 minutes.
Liam McDermott put the Centaurs on the scoreboard first, taking a pass from Guerin Favreau to make it 1-0 just 3 minutes, 13 seconds into the game.
Ellington tied it seven minutes later on a tally by Steven Moller, the first of his three goals in the game.
The Academy forged ahead on a Favreau tally which came early in the second quarter.
Ethan Holcomb countered Moller’s second goal with his 10th of the season to put the Centaurs up, 3-2.
But the Purple Knights forged ahead on a pair of goals before Ethan Haass tied it again with 3:30 left in the first half.
Ellington took the lead into halftime when freshman Dan Broding scored with 1:09 left.
“We came out strong and we need that for four quarters,” Noel said.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
The Purple Knights (5-3) scored the first three goals of the second half, two by Hunter Neal, who finished with four tallies. Ellington also changed up its defense, going from zone to man, that bothered the Centaurs a bit.
Noel said most of the trouble, however, was self-inflicted.
“We stopped moving the ball and you have to move the ball in this game,” Noel said. “You have to move the ball, cut to the hole and you have to find the open guy. We weren’t doing that. Too many people were overthinking it. We had underhand passes, no discipline, you can’t do that.”
The Centaurs were outshot 19-4 in the third quarter, but rebounded to outshoot the Purple Knights, 12-3 in the final quarter.
Nothing, however, got past Ellington keeper, Alex Joslin.
“He was very good. He has a good stick. He was on top of everything. I can’t say enough praise about him,” Noel said.
Carson Hadley made six saves for the Centaurs.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director


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