A look back at 2018 

Kyle Brennan

From all of us at Citizen’s News, here’s wishing all of our readers a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Hopefully those long-planned resolutions haven’t been derailed just a few days into 2019.

Of course, we can’t move forward if we don’t first look back at what got us here in the first place. That means it’s time for us to review the top 10 local sports happenings from 2018.

Naugy girls reach NVL hoops final: It had been a long time since the Naugatuck girls basketball team was much of a force in the Naugatuck Valley League, but Gail Cheney changed that in her first year as the Greyhounds’ head coach. Led by Alyana Sosa, Hailey Deitelbaum and Bridget Rosikiewicz, Naugy put together a 19-5 season and made a surprising run to their first-ever NVL final, where the ‘Hounds suffered a 44-37 loss to Sacred Heart.

McKee retires as Naugy boys swim coach: Few coaches in the history of the NVL — in any sport — put together a career the likes of Jim McKee’s tenure as head coach of the Naugatuck boys swim team. In March, he announced his retirement as boys coach after 42 seasons with a 386-188 record, 24 NVL titles, 23 state records, nine All-Americans, 75 All-State athletes, the 1992 Class L state title and three state runner-up finishes. McKee coached the girls team in the fall for a 33rd year.

Woodland’s reign in girls track continues: Longtime Woodland girls track coach Jeff Lownds doesn’t often sit and reflect on past success, but he couldn’t help but do so last winter and spring. His Hawks won their seventh straight NVL indoor track title and their sixth straight NVL outdoor track title — the latter coming when Julia Swiatek surprised the field and won the rain-delayed pole vault competition.

Seeger a State Open champ: Naugatuck’s Aren Seeger was one of the NVL’s top overall athletes in 2017-18, and he capped off a terrific senior year by winning the 300-meter hurdles at the State Open. He also won the 110 hurdles at the Class L meet and the 200 at the NVL meet.

Naugy Legion revives success: Few American Legion baseball programs in the state have a pedigree like Naugatuck Post 17, and last summer saw a return to that success. Naugatuck (21-11) finished second in Zone 5 and swept Guilford in the first round of the state tournament before falling to Cheshire in the Southern Division super regional.

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A first on trails for Hawks: The Woodland girls cross country team is no stranger to success at the NVL meet, but it was never the same story for the boys squad until this fall. The Hawks won their first boys championship and their fifth girls championship to complete the NVL double. Emma Slavin (fourth) and Kyle Crowell (fifth) led their respective teams.

Moutinho bids farewell to program he started: Shortly after leading the Woodland boys soccer team to its third NVL championship game berth in the last eight years, longtime coach Tony Moutinho announced his retirement from the program that he started in 2001. Moutinho coached two All-New England players and won the 2011 NVL title during his career.

Woodland spikers stun their way to state semis: Candidly, not even Woodland volleyball coach Jim Amato would admit he saw a deep state tournament run coming for his Hawks. But with some gutsy play from his bench, an All-State attacker in Steph Krebbs, and a wild comeback victory over Waterford in the second round, Woodland reached the Class M semifinals for the first time since 2015. The Hawks finished 18-7 overall after a loss to eventual champion Seymour.

Defense dominates for Naugy gridders: Despite a sour ending to Naugatuck’s football season with a sloppy Thanksgiving loss to Ansonia and a tight defeat to Platt in the Class L quarterfinals, it was an impressive year for the 9-2 Greyhounds. They pitched six shutouts in those nine games — the most at Naugatuck since 1990.

Krivca, Hawks complete turnaround: The 2016 football season was a rough one for Woodland — a 1-9 record, by far the worst season in school history. But a hardworking attitude by Edit Krivca and his teammates led to an eight-game improvement over two seasons. The Hawks capped it this season by going 9-2 and reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013. They lost to eventual Class S champion Bloomfield, but Krivca and Josh Hassan both went All-State.