By Brian Paglia
Playing its second game in three days against a playoff-caliber opponent was demanding enough for the Woodland boys soccer team. But it also was without three players who were inactive due to injuries and facing Eagle's Landing, an area rival and a team ranked at one point this season.
So the Wolfpack leaned on its defense and took advantage of two Eagle's Landing miscues for a 2-0 win over the Golden Eagles in an Area 4-AAA game Friday that continued Woodland's unprecedented success this season.
Until this week, Woodland (6-2-1, 3-0) did not boast a victory over a team with a winning record. Friday's win was Woodland's second this week against a team that made the playoffs last season after a 3-2 overtime win against Luella on Wednesday, and fourth overall in its last five games.
"I said at the beginning of the week that we were going to learn a lot about ourselves this week," Woodland coach Jared Steinberg said. "I think we did with two big victories this week, on the road, in the county, one in region and one that's not in the region against a Class AAAAA team."
Woodland's history against Eagle's Landing, a team that reached the Class AAA quarterfinals last season, was inauspicious. The Golden Eagles (6-4, 3-1) had outscored the Wolfpack, 12-1, in the last two meetings.
Just 16 minutes into the game, Woodland matched its total. Granted a free kick from 35 yards out, the Wolfpack ran a set play. Brandon Kilfoyle sent a crisp pass over an unsuspecting Eagle's Landing defense, leaving Greg White an easy finish to put the Wolfpack up 1-0.
"That was a heck of a goal," Steinberg said. "It could not have been done any better."
Woodland's good fortune continued in the second half. As the Wolfpack attacked, Eagle's Landing goal keeper Jeremy Brantley was caught out of position when he charged the ball as it approached.
An unorthodox bounce put Brantley in a vulnerable position. Woodland forward Dorian Greene reached the ball before Brantley and chipped a shot over the veteran keeper's head to give the Wolfpack a 2-0 lead in the 53rd minute.
"He's a heck of a keeper and all goal keepers get caught out of position from time to time," Steinberg said. "It's just going to happen. I think the ball was coming in and I think he just misplayed the bounce. One touch and that's it, right in the goal."
Said Eagle's Landing coach Shaun Leyden: "I thought we controlled the game at midfield, but we took some chances and made two defensive mistakes."
Eagle's Landing girls 5, Woodland 1
Adjusts were necessary at halftime with the games tied, and the Lady Golden Eagles were able to make those adjustments and get four goals to pull away for an Area 4-AAA win.
Out of necessity, Eagle's Landing coach Gail Ballard moved defender Bre Garrett up to forward and she responded with two goals.
Rachel St. Clair added two goals and an assist for No. 7 Eagle's Landing (8-2, 4-0), Rachel Mikula scored a goal and Sherali Yadev added an assist.
"We made the adjustments we needed to make to get more shots," Ballard said.
Rhia Chauhan scored the only goal for Woodland (4-5, 2-1).