NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls soccer team endured a tough stretch that saw the Greyhounds drop four straight games and only score one goal in the process. The Greyhounds put an end to that streak of futility Sept. 27 as they unleashed an offense that rang up a 7-0 win over Sacred Heart.
The Greyhounds, who are dealing with their share of injuries, put that tough stretch behind them as some key players returned to the lineup. Alissa McNeil led the way scoring two goals versus the Hearts. Hailey Boulanger, who returned from an injury, scored two goals and added an assist.
“We went through a tough stretch,” Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said. “But I’m not worried. We had at least five starters out and we continued to improve. We needed to put some balls into the back of the net and Hailey was able to get back on the field. Hopefully we can take that momentum and build off that.”
Mariano added, “We are still down three players. But we are trying to get better each day every day. You never know how a season is going to unfold. You never want to see a player get injured, but it has created opportunities for some of the younger players to step up.”
The Greyhounds (3-4) had several players step up and contribute to the offense against Sacred Heart. Erin Doris, Kaitlyn Rielly and Abigail Pruchnicki added goals. Macie Best had three assists and Nicole Crowley added an assist.
“Erin is the type of player we can put anywhere on the field and she will be productive for us,” Mariano said. “Kaitlyn is one of the younger players who has stepped up and has done a good job. I’m confident that we will put it all together once we get everyone back.”
Cassidy Baranowski and Sydney O’Donnell (5 saves) shared duties in the net as the defense came to together to shut down the Hearts.
Naugatuck had eight days off before they are set to get back on the pitch Wednesday versus Ansonia. The much-needed break came at the right time for the Greyhounds.
“We are getting over some of our injuries,” senior co-captain Kyla Magalhaes said. “Once we have some time out on the field I think our movement and communication will get better and we will be a better team than we are right now.”
One of the key players for the offense is Boulanger, who scored a hat trick to start the season in a win over Torrington but has been limited with an injury since. The offense was in full throttle with her back in the lineup.
“It feels great to back contributing to the team,” Boulanger said. “When we have everyone back we have a really strong offense. Now we need to put some wins up there and gain some momentum.”
The Greyhounds will see how far they have come back and how far they need to go when they host Watertown Friday at 6 p.m. Naugatuck will then head to Wolcott on Oct. 11.
“We just have to push through the games that come and stay together as a team,” senior co-captain Alyana Sosa said. “We will eventually get better. We just need to stay focused. We were able to pass the ball real well (against Sacred Heart) and it just showed what we are capable of doing.”