One of, if not the biggest sports rivalry in the Naugatuck Valley League, is Naugatuck and Woodland. Perhaps the biggest reason this rivalry remains strong in every sport, besides being neighboring towns, is the athletic success of both schools. The 2015-16 school year was filled with many big sports moments. There are too many to fit them all here, so we’ve condensed the list to ten that stand out in no particular order.
Nunes ends career with third straight NVL soccer title: With the loss of many players from the 2014-15 season, many questioned whether Art Nunes’ Greyhounds would defend their back-to-back NVL boys soccer titles. Turns out the Greyhounds picked up right where they left off. Naugy lost just two games in the regular season and cruised to a third straight league title, defeating Woodland, 2-0, in the championship game. Not long after, Nunes announced his retirement from coaching after 21 years with a record of 331-50-22, two state championships (2001, 2002), and 14 NVL titles.
McAllen makes his mark: Woodland senior running back Sean McAllen proved to be a very bright spot for the Hawks over the past four seasons, and etched his name in the history books along the way. The 2016 graduate has broken the following school records: most rushing yards in one game (462), longest touchdown run (99), most total touchdowns in a season (30), most all-purpose yards in a season (2,375), most rushing yards in a season (1,748), most career total yards (6,226), most career rushing yards (4,746), and most career rushing touchdowns (53). He is also in the top 10 in many other offensive and defensive categories.
Naugy wins third straight cross country title: If there is one thing that the Naugatuck boys cross country team doesn’t know how to do, it’s lose. In the past two seasons, the Greyhounds have not lost at an NVL meet and have earned three straight league titles. A fair share of great runners have helped those championship teams over the past three years, including Dan Schumacher, Mark Zamani and Grady Beasley, to name a few.
Hawks win fourth NVL title in nine seasons: It’s safe to say that Woodland volleyball has been a force to be reckoned with in the NVL since Jim Amato became head coach ten years ago, winning four league titles in that span. The fourth title came in November in a 3-2 win over Oxford. The Hawks aren’t just a force locally. Woodland has appeared in four straight state semifinals, claiming a title in 2013. Amato’s squad has only lost 14 matches in the past four seasons.
Pompei steps down: After ten years as Naugatuck’s athletic director, Tom Pompei decided to resign from the position in February. Under Pompei, Naugatuck athletics brought home a countless number of NVL championship trophies in just about every sport. While he stepped down from the A.D. position, Pompei continues to work at Naugatuck High as a dean of students.
Woodland girls stop Watertown’s streak: The NVL finally saw a different NVL girls soccer champion when Woodland came from behind to beat five-time defending champion Watertown, 2-1, in the title game. The game-winning goal came off the foot of senior Jess Rodrigues with 58 seconds left in overtime. The Hawks also advanced to the state semifinals for the first time, where they suffered their first loss of the season.
Greyhounds claim tennis crown: The No. 5-seeded Naugatuck Greyhounds took the NVL girls tennis tournament by storm this spring. They had to get through Watertown in the final, a team that had won three of the past four league titles and had beaten Naugy twice in the regular season. Naugatuck trailed 3-1 in the title match before winning all three doubles matches to claim the crown. Naugatuck’s doubles teams also made their mark at the NVL individual tournament as the duo of Floraine Evardo and Diana Velasco made the final, and the tandem of Ally Mezzo and Kelly Murphy reached the semifinals.
Hawks continue to dominate in track and field: The Woodland girls track and field team captured the indoor and outdoor NVL titles yet again. For those counting, that’s five straight indoor titles and four straight outdoor championships. What is even more amazing is at the 2016 outdoor championship meet, the Hawks didn’t win a single event and were down after 15 events. The Hawks’ depth proved to be the difference in getting points wherever they could, and after the final events they were back on top.
Naugy swims to best postseason since 2011: In March, the Naugatuck boys swimming team made it a two-team showdown at the NVL championship meet. Holy Cross defended its title in a narrow victory over the Greyhounds, but that was not the only thing that Naugy accomplished. On top of being runner-up at the NVL meet, the ‘Hounds earned a ten seed in the Class L championship and also sent four swimmers to the State Open, making it their best postseason since 2011.
Roulanaitis goes out on top: Senior Mike Roulanaitis, Woodland’s No. 1 singles player, captured the NVL boys individual tennis championship in May. Down 5-2, Roulanaitis fought off two match points and won the third and deciding match of the championship, a match that the champ called the longest he has ever played.