WATERBURY — The Naugatuck boys soccer team didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard this season, averaging just a little over two goals per game. But when it came time to defend their Naugatuck Valley League title, the Greyhounds did what they do best — keep opponents from scoring.
The Greyhounds didn’t give up a goal in the tournament, and won their third straight league title with a 2-0 win over Woodland Nov. 4.
Naugatuck (14-2-3) spelled defense with a capital ‘D.’ The Greyhounds held Woodland (11-7-1) to zero shots on goal in the final. Andrew Carroll and Michael Campos tallied the goals for the ‘Hounds with defenseman Felipe Dutra earning the MVP award for the tournament.
“This might be the biggest transformation of a team from the day we started the season until now, since I’ve been the coach here,” Naugatuck head coach Art Nunes said. “The talent hadn’t developed yet, the chemistry wasn’t there and everything we tried to do just wasn’t working early on. Once they started to believe that they could do it, it finally started clicking.”
Woodland came into the championship game as a surprise team that was supposed to be rebuilding this year. Somewhere along the line Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho started getting the most out of his team and the Hawks pulled off one upset after another to reach the title game.
Wins over higher-ranked teams Ansonia and Oxford had the Hawks playing for the league championship. It was the defense that steered the ship led by goal keeper A.J. Oliveira and defenseman Xavier Gibson, Isaac Weinstein, Matt Hopkinson and Ryan Swanson.
“We had a nice ride,” Moutinho said. “But we just lost against a better team. Defense again kept us in the game, and you can only defend against a team like Naugatuck for so long.
“This was a total surprise. I never thought we would make it this far. Give all the credit to the kids, they never gave up. They are a young group and we’ll be back.”
Dutra led a Naugatuck defense that didn’t allow Woodland to ever threaten in the championship. Devon Curtis, Gabriel Carrelo and Dave Ruela along with Dutra formed a solid wall around keeper Rabbi Ahmed.
Naugatuck had its fair share of shots (10) in the first half but everything that was aimed at the Woodland goal managed to find the woodwork or the crossbar.
Finally with 33:15 to play Carroll broke through on the right side of the box and deposited one to the back of the net for a 1-0 Naugy lead. With 11:19 to go a shot ricocheted off the cross bar and Campos charged in to put a head on it and give Naugatuck a 2-0 lead.
“A.J. is a real good keeper so I knew I needed to get a little something on it,” Campos said. “We have been preparing for this game since the first practice of the season. We showed tonight just what our maximum potential can be.”
Naugatuck is the 10th seed in the Class L tournament and will host No. 23 Lyman Hall (6-7-3) Tuesday.
Woodland is the 20th seed in the Class M tournament and will visit No. 13 Ansonia (9-4-3) Tuesday.