WATERBURY — The Naugatuck girls showed up at Municipal Stadium Monday on sheer will power and determination as they sought to reach the NVL soccer championship game for the seventh time in the last 10 years.
Watertown, the five-time defending champion, stood in their path. The Indians came away with a 2-0 win and will now play for their sixth straight NVL title on Thursday against Woodland. Naugatuck (9-9) will get ready for the CIAC state tournament this weekend.
“We had our opportunities early on but some of the calls that could have been game-changing didn’t go our way,” Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said. “But in the end it’s on us and how we played. We had our moments and just couldn’t capitalize.”
It was a defensive struggle for much of the first half. Watertown (10-7-1) got just two shots on goal and Naugy only one. The Indians used pinpoint passing inside the box to break the scoreless tie when Erin Hughson got one past Naugatuck keeper Sophie Boucher (5 saves) with 22:20 left in the first half.
Watertown took the 1-0 lead into the half.
The Greyhounds came out in the second half and went on an all-out blitz in the Watertown end. Shot after shot skidded by the post, went over the top of the cross bar or into the arms of Watertown goalie Emily Hill (6 saves).
With 10 minutes left to play Meadow Mancini put the finishing touches on the Indians’ win sending one to the back of the net for the 2-0 final margin.
It has been a difficult season for the Greyhounds. A great 5-1 start was dampened by a tough stretch where Naugatuck won just two out of nine games after losing their leading scorer Sara Marques.
The Greyhounds showed their potential in the quarterfinals on Oct. 31.
Naugatuck defeated Oxford, 4-3, to reach the semifinals. Kyla Magalhaes scored two goals, including one on a penalty kick to tie the game at 2-2 with 31 minutes to play. Over the next four minutes the Greyhounds took over the game with Hailey Boulanger and Hannah Lauer adding goals to complete the win.
“Winning in the quarterfinals was a huge boost for us,” Mariano said. “Getting to the semifinals with a chance to play for a title was where we wanted to be and the girls did a great job to get here, and I’m so proud of them.”
“I would have liked us to play a little more controlled soccer,” Mariano added. “In the end it’s a success in the sense that we’ve had a tough season, but in the end I’m happy with their success.”