Senior Carter Saracina makes one of his seven catches against NFA. The Centaurs fell, 21-17, to the Wildcats. Photo by Marc Allard. Photo by Marc Allard/Woodstock Academy.

Senior Grace Gelhaus (8) celebrates after scoring the first goal of the match in a 5-1 Class L girls’ soccer first-round state tournament win. Photo by Sam Romero/Woodstock Academy.

For the first time since 2003, the Woodstock Academy girls’ soccer team reached the Class L state quarterfinals. Unfortunately, that is where the journey ended.
The 11th-seeded Centaurs started out quickly again but third-seeded Wethersfield cooled them off and posted a 2-1 victory to advance to the Class L semifinal against St. Joseph’s.
The loss ended the season at 14-5-2 for Woodstock.
But it wasn’t without its share of thrills including winning the ECC Div. I and Div. 1 tournament championships and going as far as the final eight in the state.
“We have to be happy with the whole season and to see what a team can achieve behind great captains and leaders,” said coach Dennis Snelling.
Grace Gelhaus struck early for the Centaurs. Macy Rawson sent a ball in from near midfield that Gelhaus caught up to and sent into the back of the net just 4 minutes, 48 seconds into the match.
But just like the previous second-round match against Daniel Hand, the early scoring was not finished.
Wethersfield (14-0-3) countered just 4 minutes late.
The two teams battled for the next hour and 20 minutes without a goal until Wethersfield was able to cobble together the game winner.
An offensive explosion carried the Centaurs into their first Class L girls’ soccer quarterfinal as they downed Daniel Hand in Madison in a second-round contest, 8-3, earlier in the week.
Gelhaus scored five goals and added two assists for Woodstock which broke out to a 3-0 lead in the first 11 minutes of the match. That lead would increase to 5-1 at halftime but the Tigers scored two of the three goals that took place in the first 6:13 of the second half to cut the deficit to three goals, 6-3.
Gelhaus added her final two goals to put the win away for Woodstock.
Leah Costa added a hat trick for the Centaurs while Rebecca Nazer, Lennon Favreau, Juliet Allard and Freya Robbie contributed assists.
The Centaurs, seeded 11th in the Class L state tournament, scored four goals in just 16 minutes in the second half to end the season for No. 22 Windsor last week as they outscored the Warriors, 5-1, in a first-round contest.
The Centaurs saw the Warriors exert their will a bit in the first half as they took seven shots at the Woodstock goal. Nazer was up to the task as she made four saves on the ones that came close.
And despite Windsor’s pressure in the offensive end, it was Woodstock who led at the half.
Gelhaus scored 22 minutes, 47 seconds into the contest when a header by Bella Mawson found the senior’s foot. Gelhaus took the ball in, forced Windsor keeper Olivia Rosario to commit to come out and when she did so, put it over the top of her for the 1-0 lead.
Windsor (6-6-5) didn’t quit scored a tying goal in the second half.
Just under four minutes later, Gelhaus took a pass from Costa and beat Rosario again to give Woodstock the lead back.
Then a mistake by a Windsor defender who kicked the ball over the back line resulted in a corner for the Centaurs.
Junior Emma Massey sent the ball in with her right foot, it hit Rosario and bounced into the net for a 3-1 Woodstock lead. It was the junior’s first career varsity goal.
Gelhaus finished up the hat trick from 35 yards out.
Costa finished things up with her 10th goal of the season. The defense was also stellar, giving up just three shots to Windsor in the second half.
Football Team Falls
The Centaurs had held NFA scoreless in the second half and limited the Wildcats to just 37 yards in offense.
So, after a 26-yard field goal by Woodstock’s Henry Wotton had put the Centaurs up by three with 6 minutes, 38 seconds to play, things looked pretty good.
But NFA came up with two big plays and that was all it needed to record a 21-17 win over Woodstock last week.
The game helped decide the ECC  Div. I title.
All four teams were in the running as they had identical 1-1 records coming into Friday with head-to-head play to be the determining factor and Fitch came out the winner.
NFA’s win over Woodstock eliminated the Centaurs from contention but Fitch’s 34-20 win over East Lyme on Friday in Groton gave the title to the Falcons as they had also beaten the Wildcats earlier in the season.
Woodstock had a couple of prime opportunities to put the Wildcats away in the second half.
A 24-yard run by Carter Saracina late in the third quarter gave the Centaurs the ball on the NFA 22-yard line.
Trevor Savoie rushed for five more and an 8-yard pass by Teddy Richardson (14-for-24 passing, 148 yards) to Seamus McDermott gave Woodstock a first-and-goal at the NFA 9.
But a sack pushed the Centaurs back 3 yards and it was followed by an incomplete pass. Richardson did run for 10 yards to the two-yard line but on fourth-and-goal, a trick play resulted in an incomplete pass and NFA took over on downs.
But a false start, two incomplete passes and a running play meant the Centaurs were staring at a fourth-and-goal at the 9. Wotton was called up and delivered the 26-yard field goal.
Wildcat Jeremiah Paul caught the kickoff at the NFA 12 and wasn’t stopped until the Woodstock 40.
Three plays later, NFA scored. An NFA interception on the next series sealed the Centaurs’ fate.
Woodstock (4-4, 1-2 ECC Div. I) had gone ahead when Richardson hit Saracina (7 catches, 128 yards) on a short screen. Saracina weaved his way through the defense, got to the sidelines and changed gears, streaking for the 62-yard score.
NFA also reached the end zone on its next possession.
A Woodstock turnover allowed the Wildcats to take the lead in the second quarter.
NFA recovered a fumble at the Centaur 35 and took just four plays to get it in, making it  14-7 NFA.
Centaur defensive lineman Marcus McGregor helped set up the tying score. For a second week in a row, he blocked a punt and the Centaurs took over on downs at the Wildcats 24.
A 13-yard pass to Saracina two plays later gave Woodstock a first-and-goal at the 9-yard line and junior running back David Bunning took it in from there to tie the contest.
The Centaurs have another game prior to their showdown with Killingly on Thanksgiving Day.
Woodstock has to complete its suspended game with Enfield Nov. 16.
Menounos Runs in Championship
Woodstock sophomore Christian Menounos got his first taste of competition from not only within, but also from outside Connecticut, Nov. 12.
He competed in the New England boys’ cross-country championship in Rhode Island.
He acquitted himself well as he finished 51st out of 260 runners.
Menounos was just 10 seconds off his State Open championship time of the week before, crossing the line in 16 minutes, 50 seconds.
The sophomore was the first from Woodstock to compete in the New England championship since Kevin Graham in 2004.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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