Best of 2011-12 high school sports: Top 10 games

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Naugatuck’s Zac Mercer (12) hauls in a 35-yard pass over Derby’s Brian Dobck (34) Sept. 24 at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury. The Greyhounds earned a hard-fought 14-13 win. -RA ARCHIVE

Now that school is finally done around these parts, it’s time for us to start looking back at the academic (by that we mean athletic) year that was.

In the first of a three-part series, we’ll take a look back at the top 10 games of the last school year. We were lucky enough to see some outstanding contests and championships in all different sports, and many of them came in the Woodland-Naugatuck rivalry. We’ve picked out our 10 favorite games and meets of the year, listed chronologically.

Next week, we’ll continue the series by recounting the top 10 senior athletes of the year.

Last-minute drive lifts Naugatuck over Derby (Sept. 24, 2011): Droves of Naugy fans wanted the defending NVL champ to air it out during Week 2’s game at Municipal Stadium. After Jake Yourison pounded the rock most of the game, he finally pulled a surprise pass and hooked up with Zac Mercer for a 35-yard completion. Yourison scored the game-tying touchdown on the next play, and Kevin Tousignant’s extra point sealed a 14-13 win over Derby.

Hawks take thrilling — but ugly — five-setter over ‘Cats (Oct. 18, 2011): Neither Woodland’s Jim Amato nor Seymour’s Cathy Federowicz — perhaps the two best volleyball coaches in the NVL — thought the match between the league’s best teams was particularly good. But the unpredictability and evenness of the match had fans emotional after every point. Woodland survived for a 3-2 (24-26, 26-24, 27-25, 13-25, 15-13) win.

‘Hounds outlast Hawks on PKs in NVL girls semis (Nov. 5, 2011): Two of the NVL’s best goaltenders, Naugy’s Kaitlin Carter and Woodland’s Alma Rizvani, let nothing past them until penalty kicks. In the tiebreaker, the Hawks clanged their last two shots off the post, and goals by Kelly Koslosky and Isabelle Moody lifted the ‘Hounds to a 1-0 (2-1 PK) win and a trip to the NVL finals.

Moutinho’s header nets Woodland boys first NVL title (Nov. 8, 2011): The Hawks rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to tie the game in the 51st minute on a goal by Eric Dietz, the state’s leading goal-scorer. Twenty-two minutes later, Moutinho connected on a header off Richy Vadala’s corner kick to give Woodland the lead. The Hawks held on for a 2-1 win and their first-ever NVL championship, closing out an undefeated league season.

Wild second half on gridiron gives Wolcott win over Hawks (Nov. 12, 2011): Woodland battled back from a pair of double-digit deficits to take a 22-18 lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Hawks’ defense, which allowed a number of big plays all season, gave up two game-changing desperation passes that allowed the Eagles to score the game’s final 13 points and earn a 31-22 victory.

Kingsley’s 29 points give Woodland OT victory in Seymour (Dec. 20, 2011): Sophomore guard Tanner Kingsley took a give-and-go pass off an inbounds and hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in regulation to send the contest to overtime. In the extra period, a layup by Dave Uhl and free throws by Uhl and Kingsley put the Hawks ahead for a 58-56 win.

Foote’s buzzer-beater propels Naugy past Woodland (Jan. 13, 2012): After the Hawks rallied from a 14-point deficit with seven minutes to play, Husani Foote wasn’t about to let Woodland steal the victory. Foote took an inbounds pass from Adam Neveski and drained a 10-footer as the final horn sounded to waste the Hawks’ frantic comeback, which included two 3-pointers by Ryan Angeloszek in the final 30 seconds.

4-by-400 relays score Hawks two NVL indoor track crowns (Jan. 31, 2012): Both the boys and girls NVL championships came down to Woodland and Naugatuck competing in the 4-by-400-meter relays. The girls race wasn’t all that dramatic — the Hawks led wire-to-wire and took the NVL title. But the boys race was as exciting as it’s ever been. Woodland anchor leg Nick LaPerriere made up a six-second deficit and crossed the line just a half-second faster than the ‘Hounds.

Team effort gives Naugy girls stunning win in NVL quarters (Feb. 18, 2012): Lauren Piroscafo and the Greyhounds trailed Watertown by 11 with 6:16 to play in the NVL quarterfinals. But a fierce rally, capped by Piroscafo’s game-tying layup with less than 10 seconds to play, sent the game to overtime. In the extra frame, Naugy took a 53-51 lead and won by the same score as Steph Lima made a game-clinching steal with six seconds left.

Chandler’s walk-off double advances ‘Hounds in tourney (May 29, 2012): Staging late-inning comebacks wasn’t new to the Naugatuck softball team. But this one topped all the ones before. Down to the last strike of the season, Sarah Chandler ripped a walk-off, two-run double in the 10th inning to plate Stefani Barry and Gillian Fortier with the winning runs in Naugatuck’s 2-1 victory over New Canaan in the Class LL state tournament first round.