Youth provides spark for Greyhounds

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NAUGATUCK — The Greyhounds have been trending younger the past few years, and that was evident when Naugatuck took the field to face Seymour this week to open the season.

“We are a young team. We had two freshmen and four sophomores start the game for us, and more than half of our starters are underclassmen,” said Naugy head coach Lisa Mariano, who is in her fourth season at the helm.

The youth movement didn’t slow down the Greyhounds, who earned a 3-1 win over the Wildcats on Tuesday. Freshman Lilly Lyons scored two goals to lead the way for Naugy.

“It was a solid start on the season for us,” Mariano said.

Naugatuck (1-0) does have some experience to go along with all that young talent, led by senior captains Sofia Marques and Mia Rotatori. Juniors Paige Cruz and goal keeper Sydney O’Donnell were part of the first wave of up-and-comers two seasons ago, and their experience lends leadership to a team with high hopes after putting up nine wins last year.

Sophomores Angelina Oliveira, Emma Sonski, Noelle Jacobi and Aalyiah Henry made their presence felt last year as freshmen, and this year provide an even bigger role as Naugatuck battles to get back to the top of the league.

Seymour (1-2) struck first last week when Suzana Imetovski scored 26 minutes into the contest to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

The lead didn’t last long.

Lyons tied it up moments later, and freshman Allison Murphy put the Greyhounds in front with a goal. Lyons scored her second goal of the game with 6 minutes to play to secure the win.

“The freshmen made a great debut with all three goals coming from them,” Mariano said. “They brought a refreshing feeling to the game.”

Oliveira, Henry and freshman Julianna Magalhaes were credited with assists for Naugatuck. In net, O’Donnell made two saves.

The Greyhounds are working on firming up the defense in front of O’Donnell after losing last year’s entire defensive backfield to graduation.

“We are still testing a new back line,” Mariano said. “It will take a few trial runs to figure it out, but we will be ready.”

The Greyhounds will close out the week with games against St. Paul on Friday and Newtown on Saturday. Next week, Naugatuck will play Seymour again on Wednesday, before visiting Woodland on Friday.