By Tris Wykes

WOODSTOCK – Like a sweater sleeve’s cuff caught on an exposed nail, the Hartford High girls soccer team’s hold on its Monday contest at Woodstock unraveled in a hurry. 

The Hurricanes were the better side through the first half but the Wasps scored the game’s final three goals during a 14-minute stretch of the second stanza. Junior striker Hannah Reed struck twice for the hosts and junior goalkeeper Emma Tarleton was another Woodstock standout.

Woodstock High’s Skylar Haley, in black, and goaltender Emma Tarleton battle Hartford’s Reilly Slusser, center. Hurricane Beth Dobrich is at right.

“Two relatively even teams,” said 15th-year Hartford coach Jeff Acker, whose squad scored five minutes before intermission to forge a 1-1 tie. “But they got that second goal and it lifted them and we couldn’t respond.

“High school sports is all about confidence and when you’ve got it, you go to the ball a little harder.”

The Wasps’ second tally came 6 minutes and 53 seconds into the second half. Hurricanes goalkeeper Erin Thompson and her defenders seemed to miscommunicate, allowing Reed to accelerate on to a Savannah Sheehan pass and use the side of her right foot to poke it past the onrushing netminder.

“Hartford is a strong team and we came into the game thinking they were dominant,” Reed said. “We were amazed at how well we can play if we keep up our enthusiasm and stay calm at the same time.”

Hartford High’s Beth Dobrich, left, and Woodstock’s Taylor Crompton meet in midfield.

Greg LaBella, Woodstock’s 21st-year coach, said he’s trying to change his team’s tendency towards slow starts. It seems that the Wasps need the first half’s duration to realize exactly what tactics to deploy against their opponent. They put that knowledge into practice after the break.

“They get all revved up at the beginning and start playing frantic, because their vision narrows,” LaBella said. “When they start seeing the whole field and not just the ball, things open up for us.”

The Wasps (1-3-1) scored with their first shot on goal and nine minutes before halftime. Reed knocked a low ball past Thompson, a junior who struggled throughout with her shot-stopping and kicks. The Hurricanes (1-3) rallied four minutes later when Reilly Slusser ran onto a Nora Knudsen through ball, entered the penalty area’s right side and placed a shot inside the far post.

After Hartford’s defensive gaffe led to Woodstock’s 2-1 lead, Abi Masillo put the hosts up by two goals seven minutes later. Novah Conway converted a penalty kick with 19 minutes remaining.

“I was really impressed that we actually had some plays today,” LaBella said. “They brought the ball to the corner before bringing it out in front. We had some offensive penetration.”

Woodstock High goalkeeper Emma Tarleton, in her jersey of many colors, is congratulated postgame. Lea Sperber is at left, joined by Celia Burrington (30) and Hannah Lockhart.

Woodstock visits Mill River on Thursday. The Minutewomen are 1-6, have been outscored, 56-2. They lost, 13-0, to Hartford. 

The Hurricanes are scheduled to play six games in the next 11 days, beginning with Tuesday’s clash with visiting Brattleboro. Execution and overcoming exhaustion may become dual goals for Acker’s team.

“Today was only our fourth game. We’re trying to figure out our systems and who should be where and what our rotations are,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good players and we’ll sort it out if we can handle the grind.”

Notes: Monday’s game was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but lightning and rain forced the teams to abandon scoreless play after 30 minutes. The contest was completely restarted… Acker’s daughter, Emily, a former Hanover soccer and ice hockey player and a Tulane University graduate, assisted her father Monday… Tarleton is a three-year starter who helped Woodstock win 10 games as a freshman and five last autumn. She’s the daughter of Wasps baseball coach Jason Tarleton and the sister of former Wasps hardball standout Owen Tarleton… Woodstock’s JV girls soccer team won 11 games last fall… LaBella said a pair of his 2019 starters, both seniors, transferred out of Woodstock before the current school year and that two of their classmates elected not to play soccer this fall. The team currently has six seniors… The Wasps are 28-33-7 the past five seasons… Acker is 102-109-12 at Hartford.

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Woodstock High’s Hannah Lockhart leaps to block a kick. Hartford’s Regan Mock, right, and Grace Pfenning, look on.