WATERBURY — Naugatuck has always been known as a hotbed for soccer in the state, and now borough players have extended their reach into neighboring Waterbury.
With a roster not short on Naugatuck players — as well as one from Prospect — the No. 2 Chase Collegiate boys soccer team defeated top-seeded Wooster, 2-0, Nov. 9 to win the Housatonic Valley Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2007.
Armed with the three local players returning from last season — Jaiden Paniagua and Patrick Osiecki, both of Naugatuck, and Joe Scarpati of Prospect — Chase head coach Joe Campos added some more Naugatuck influence this season.
Campos, a Naugatuck resident, added striker Aiden Coelho, midfielders Matt Connan, Simon Kopecky and Landon Coelho, defenders Sebastian DaSilva and back-up goalkeeper Anthony Molina. To add some depth to the team, the coach also brought up JV players Jacob Almeida and Hee Mang Carlson.
“At the start of the season we knew we had a lot more talent on the team than in the past,” Campos said. “Patrick (Osiecki) was injured in the jamboree, so it took us while to get going but once we got over that hump we started playing to our ability.”
The Highlanders got off to a 3-4 start without Osiecki in the lineup, but finished the regular season with a six-game winning streak.
“The chemistry was there from day one,” Campos said. “They all played youth soccer together in Naugatuck, so they had that working for them. Once I saw how we played against Rocky Hill of Rhode Island I knew we were capable of making it to the championship game and had a shot to win it all.”
Osiecki returned to the lineup in the postseason and the Highlanders turned it up a notch. They knocked off Rocky Hill, 3-1, in the HVAL first round and beat Christian Heritage, 4-2, in the semifinals.
Osiecki, who was named the tournament MVP, and Paniagua led the way in the semis with two goals each.
Chase lost to Wooster, 3-2, during the regular season without Osiecki. In the championship game, the Highlanders turned the tables on Wooster. Osiecki and Kopecky scored the only goals of the game, and chase goalie Rohan Singh made 16 saves.
“We haven’t won the HVAL since 2007 when I was a senior captain on that team,” Chase Collegiate athletic director Steve Behr said. “That was a long time ago. Coach Joe is like the soccer whisperer up here and has really got this school buzzing. Parents, alumni, teachers and students have been coming out to support our boys.”
The Highlanders earned the No. 2 seed in the New England Private School Athletic Conference Class D tournament.
Chase lost to Rocky Hill (R.I.), 3-2, in overtime in the semifinals Nov. 16. Nick Ciampi and Paniagua scored for Chase. Singh made 14 saves.
The Highlanders beat Boston Trinity, 7-5, Nov. 13 to advance to the semifinals.
Osiecki and Aiden Coelho scored two goals each to spark the offense against Boston Trinity. Kopecky, Conrad Coyanda-Parkzes and Murphy Malone finished the scoring.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated from the article published in the Nov. 21 edition of the Citizen’s News to include the result of the New England Private School Athletic Conference semifinal.