NAUGATUCK — Three weeks into the season, the Greyhounds found themselves right where they want to be, in a scramble for the top spot in the Naugatuck Valley League.
Through seven games, Naugatuck stands at 5-1-1 — with the lone loss coming out of the NVL — by blending a solid nucleus of veteran players with some younger players who have brought some excitement to the team.
Seniors Sofia Marques, Mia Rotatori and Catarina Rego and juniors Sydney O’Donnell in net and forward Paige Cruz give the Greyhounds a confident presence. Sophomores Emma Sonski, Aalyiah Henry, Noelle Jacobi and Angelina Oliveira team up with freshmen Lilly Lyons and Julianna Magalhaes to help boost the Naugy attack.
“Our practices are paying off,” head coach Lisa Mariano said. “The younger girls are starting to put some combinations together, and just their excitement is making a difference in our play.”
Naugy posted a 6-2 win over Seymour on Sept. 19. Lyons led the way with two goals and an assist. Jacobi and Sonski scored a goal each and added assists.
Naugy faced it biggest test of the young season Sept. 21 at Woodland and battled the Hawks to a 1-1 draw. O’Donnell (6 saves) was solid in the net for the Greyhounds.
It was a battle up and down the pitch when Woodland struck first. In the 31st minute, Jill O’Neil sent one in at the far post past the dive of O’Donnell to put the Hawks on top.
The Greyhounds answered a minute later when Alissa McNeil fed Paige Cruz, whose shot got under the diving Carasone to tie the game at 1-1.
“It was my fault,” said Mariano about the draw. “We should have won that game, but I changed our format to a 4-4-2 when Sofia had to come out (with an injury). That wasn’t the right thing to do, unfortunately, but it was a lesson learned.”
The Greyhounds picked up their fifth win with a 6-2 victory over Sacred Heart-Kaynor Tech on Sept. 27.
Lyons and Jacobi each had two goals for Naugy. Kylie O’Donnell and Allison Murphy also scored for the Greyhounds. O’Donnell and Tsering Dhondup combined for six saves in goal.
Naugatuck started a tough stretch on Saturday with an out-of-conference match versus Brookfield.
“I feel we are ready to play,” said Mariano heading into the Brookfield game. “We know every opponent is going to come out full force against us, and as long as we match that intensity we will be all right.”
The Greyhounds fell to Brookfield, 1-0. O’Donnell had five nets in net for Naugy.
Naugatuck gets back to NVL play this week with Watertown on Monday, Oxford on Tuesday, and Derby on Thursday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the version that is published in the Oct. 4 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on games played after press time.