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Nighthawk Boys' Booters, Field Hockey Team Eliminated By Barlow



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Nighthawk Boys’ Booters, Field Hockey Team Eliminated By Barlow

By Andy Hutchison

In the first game of a Nighthawk soccer playoff double header at Newtown High School on October 28, the No. 2 Newtown boys were defeated by No. 7 Joel Barlow of Redding, 3-1. Newtown’s girls’ soccer team followed with a win in other quarterfinal round action (see related story). The NHS field hockey team, meanwhile, also lost to Barlow in opening round field hockey action on October 28. The No. 7 Nighthawks were blanked 3-0 by the host Falcons.

The boys’ soccer team fell behind 2-0 before Nathan Kalra got his team on the scoreboard late in the second half by getting to a loose ball in the 18-yard box and booting it home with 8:16 to play, but the Falcons answered 2:10 later to reclaim the two-goal cushion and all but seal the win.

The Nighthawk booters were disappointed with their performance after a strong regular season. The Falcons beat them to loose balls and controlled possession for much of the game. Jeremy Nelle, William Brashan, and Dante Spinelli all scored for the Falcons.

“We let Barlow win the game tonight,” said Newtown Coach Brian Neumeyer, adding that the Nighthawks didn’t work as hard as they could have.

“It was not at all what we expected. We definitely didn’t hustle at all. It was not our game,” said Kalra, whose team lost only twice in the regular season, and defeated Barlow 1-0 back on October 4.

“We have all the talent. We just didn’t come together today,” said Newtown goalkeeper Austin Puleri, who made four saves in the defeat. “This wasn’t like any of the games we played.”  

Can the Nighthawks chalk it up to just having a not-so-good performance at the wrong time and bounce back in the upcoming state tournament?

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Kalra said.

“We’re hoping that’s it. We’re hoping this isn’t our real personality and we’ve got to make sure that this isn’t our personality. I think we had a great regular season but, you know, if our backs are up against it we’ve got to figure out who we are and tonight was not who I hope we are,” Neumeyer said.    The coach added that he believes the Hawks, considering they were competitive with the SWC’s top-seeded Pomperaug Panthers in a season-opening loss, can make a run in the upcoming state tournament.   “I think we can play with anyone in the state if we’re playing well. But if we come out like tonight we can lose to anyone in the state,” he said.

Field Hockey Team Loses

In the SWC field hockey quarterfinals on October 28, No. 7 Newtown High visited second-seeded Barlow and fell 3-0. The Nighthawks were blanked by the Falcons by the same 3-0 score only a few days earlier, in the second to last regular season game, on October 25. The rematch was very much up for grabs for most of the game, however, as Newtown fell behind 1-0 midway through the first half and remained within a just goal until the final 11-plus minutes of regulation when the Falcons put the game away.

Strong defensive play by Grace Winans, Kaitlyn VosWinkel, Caroline Kingsley, and Lexi Black helped fend off some Barlow chances to pad the lead, and the Nighthawks nearly tied the game but couldn’t get a shot past Barlow goaltender Sam Scavo who made six saves. Newtown goalies Liz Eiseman and Lauren Sarna combined to make five saves in the defeat.

Newtown was within reach until Barlow’s Samantha Macchio fired home a pair of hard shots just 2:02 apart with her first tally coming with 11:11 to play. Isabel Benedetto also scored for Barlow.

“The scoreboard doesn’t show it but, on the field, we could tell we made a lot of improvement,” VosWinkel said.

Newtown Coach Amanda Hadgraft said she was a lot happier with the team’s performance in the tourney loss than she was with the effort in the regular season matchup earlier in the week. Hadgraft, however, also felt her team played to its ability only in spurts in the SWC tourney clash.

“It would be nice to see more consistent play,” she said.

The Nighthawks will have a chance to play with consistency and advance in state tournament play, scheduled to get underway in the second week of November.

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