NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys soccer team entered the season with something missing.
For a team that has won the Naugatuck Valley League title seven times in the last ten seasons, including a run of five straight seasons that ended last year, that missing trophy created a chip on the Greyhounds’ shoulder heading into the season.
Naugatuck has responded the way the Greyhounds have always responded, with a defense that sets the tone.
With a backline of Saul Pujols, Fred Longo, Nelson Lavoura and Manny Silva out in front of keeper David Green, the Greyhounds allowed just four goals in eight NVL games.
“We are really strong on the backline,” Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne said. “That has been our strength, and we have a lot of scorers to go to, so we have a good balance.”
The Greyhounds unleashed an offensive attack in a 9-1 win over Sacred Heart Oct. 4 to complement the defense. Ahmed Aljamal and Sam Daniel each had two goals to pace Naugatuck. Chris Akinduro, Mateus Filho, Tim Rosa, Jake Murphy and Eduardo Garcia added goals, as Naugy has found several options on the offensive end.
The Greyhounds showed their offensive prowess in 6-0 win over Kennedy Oct. 11. Six different players — Saul Pujols, Manny Silva, Ahmed Aljamal, Matheus Santis, Simon Diaz and Filho — scored for Naugatuck (8-1-1, 8-0 NVL).
“We have a solid group of six players up top,” Kinne said. “We did have Jay Barth suffer a knee injury in the Oxford game and that will be a big loss for us.”
The offense has been spread around. Through ten games, Daniel led the team with six goals. Akinduro and Filho each had six and Lucas Silva had four goals.
“Our diversity on offense doesn’t allow defenses to focus on any one player,” Kinne said. “That has helped us to be successful.”
The Greyhounds defense was tested in a 1-0 win against Oxford Oct. 8, but Akinduro came to the rescue, scoring the only goal in the game to give Naugy the win.
Naugatuck will visit Holy Cross (8-0-2) on Monday for a showdown of NVL title contenders. The Greyhounds will host Crosby on Friday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from the article published in the Oct. 17 edition of the Citizen’s News to include information on games played after press time on Oct. 11.