NAUGATUCK — A legacy has come to an end and a legend has begun.
Former Naugatuck boys soccer coach Art Nunes, who was a player on the first Naugatuck High boys soccer team, retired following last season with 331 wins, 14 NVL championships and two state titles in 21 years.
How does one replace a coach that put Naugatuck soccer on the map? With a player who is a soccer legend in his own right.
The new Naugatuck boys head coach is Ryan Kinne. Kinne was an All-American in 2006 for the Greyhounds and named the top player in Connecticut with 31 goals in his senior year.
Kinne went on to earn All-American status at Monmouth University. From there, Kinne signed the first professional soccer contract by a Naugatuck alum when he was drafted in the third round by the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer. Three years ago, he ended his professional career with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League.
“Having played the game professionally I think it will help me to reach these kids on a personal level and help them to increase their technical awareness,” Kinne said. “There are so many things I have learned through my years at Monmouth and with New England and Pittsburgh that I can impart a wealth of information to help them become better soccer players.”
Former player and assistant coach Brian Mariano was selected to succeed Nunes at first, but he was recently named interim athletic director at Naugatuck High.
“I’m honored to be taking over for coach Nunes,” Kinne said. “Unfortunately Brian couldn’t take over with his new duties as A.D. I’m extremely humbled to take over this renowned program.”
The limelight is back on Naugatuck boys soccer, not that it ever left.
Kinne’s humble soft-spoken voice compared to the booming voice of Nunes is really the only difference the Greyhounds can expect this season.
“This is going to be the same Naugatuck soccer as you have seen,” insisted Kinne, who will have Manny Nobre and his younger brother Nolan Kinne assisting him. “The tradition continues. The same on-the-ground ball-control type of offense that will be tough to beat defensively. Coming in with three straight NVL titles to defend really doesn’t add any more pressure. We’ve had a target on our backs at Naugatuck for as long as I can remember. It’s just business as usual.”
Kinne added, “We have been the highlight of everyone’s schedule for a long time. We need to be prepared for that game in and game out, there is not time to relax. We need to be ready to give everyone our best shot especially when we get to the state level where we haven’t had a lot of success recently.”
Naugatuck will be led by senior captain and defensive leader Devon Curtis. Coach Kinne has added a lot of speed to the defense using seniors David Ruela and Gabriel Carrelo and junior Yan Silva to provide support for junior goalkeeper Aren Seeger.
Bringing the ball up top will be senior forwards Candido Carrelo, Pedro DeSouza and Marco Rebelo. Naugy will be young with sneaky speed over the middle with juniors Matt Carroll and Christian Jacobi and sophomores Alex Texiera, Tom Martins and Jake Corbo manning the midfield.
“Naugatuck is a soccer town and coach Nunes is the one who helped to create that culture,” Kinne said. “I’m looking forward to continuing that tradition.”
Naugatuck starts the season Sept. 9 at 3:45 p.m. when they host Wilby.