NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls soccer season came to an end on Monday after the No. 21 Greyhounds dropped a 5-0 decision to No. 7 Joel Barlow in the first round of Class L tournament.
Naugatuck hosted Joel Barlow (9-2-4) in the regular season with the Falcons taking a 1-0 win. On Monday, Naugy made the trip to Redding and the Falcons’ grass field.
“We played them during the season and lost 1-0,” first-year Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said. “I don’t think it gave either team an advantage because this time they were smart and played us on grass.
“We haven’t played on grass a whole lot this year, but we just came out flat and the game got away from us. They were up 4-0 at the half and it just seemed like one goal led to another.”
The long bus ride home offered the players and coaching staff time to reflect on a season that presented more than its fair share of challenges. Before the first game of the season was even played there was a mountain of expectations heaped on this team with the addition of Mariano.
Whether it was fair to expect those lofty standards, Mariano came in after leading Watertown to five straight NVL championships, so it came with the territory.
After opening the season with a tough 2-1 loss to Woodland, the eventual NVL champions, the Greyhounds ripped off a five-game winning streak. Naugatuck’s scoring problems of last season appeared to be solved as senior captain Sara Marques led the team with seven goals.
Then adversity struck as Marques was lost for the season with an ACL injury. The Greyhounds struggled from there losing five of the next six games, scoring just one goal in those five losses.
“That was a tremendous loss to the team when Sara was injured,” Mariano said. “The drought was long and painful and lasted a lot longer that I had expected. During that time a lot of the younger girls gained a lot of experience.”
Naugatuck finally got it together with junior captain Kyla Magalhaes (10 goals) and sophomore Hailey Boulanger (five goals) leading the way down the stretch.
The Greyhounds finished the regular season 8-8, but six of the losses were by one goal and two of the defeats came in overtime.
“Our defense was solid all season and we will certainly miss seniors Jasmine Grey and our goal keeper Sophie Boucher,” Mariano said. “We had a good group of seniors and hopefully they learned as much from me as I did from them.”
Along with Marques, Grey and Boucher, the Greyhounds will graduate midfielders Melissa Goja, Laurel Mahler, Tricia Nolan, Anastacia Teixeira, Andrea Mercer, Jossalyn Harris and Hannah Lauer.
“We will have a young defense next season but they will have gained some experience,” Mariano said. “Sofia Marques and Catarina Rego were only freshman but did a great job stepping in along with sophomore Bridget Rosikiewicz.”
Junior Leigha Molligi played an integral role on defense and junior Nicole Crowley developed into a solid midfielder. Junior goal keeper Cassidy Baranowski got experience in the net.
Sophomores Erin Doris, Marcie Best and Abigail Pruchnicki saw a lot of playing time down the stretch and that experience will allow them to take on bigger roles next season. The player that Naugy will look at to spark a solid return next year is sophomore captain Alyana Sosa, who has developed into a solid offensive player.
“It’s so sad the way this season ended up,” Mariano said. “But we did make states and the semifinals of the NVL, so there were some good points. And the development of the younger players has me optimistic about next season. Obviously we would like to do better than 8-8, but we have a good solid young group coming back.”