NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys soccer team advanced to the second round of the Class L tournament, defeating Fermi last Friday before falling to Bunnell on Monday.
Last Friday the No. 13 Greyhounds took on No. 20 Fermi and escaped with a 2-1 victory.
Naugy broke out on top in the eighth minute when Isaque Monteiro snuck a pass through the Fermi defense, finding Jason Goja on the other side. Goja dribbled into the box and let go a shot that settled into the back of the net just before the far post for a 1-0 ‘Hounds lead.
The Falcons (9-7-1) tied the match with 8:33 left in the first half on a goal by Conor Glettenberg off an assist from Dale Quesnel.
The teams were tied going into the half as the physical play continued. Naugatuck needed to find that one break to create an opportunity.
That happened with 19:42 to play when Nolan Kinne sent a free kick from 25 yards out towards Adam Branco at the post. Branco managed to shed the defender and went up with a header that got past the dive of keeper Austin Davis for the game-deciding goal.
“Being able to finish has been our Achilles heel all season,” Naugatuck coach Art Nunes said. “We get great play out on the wings but we can’t seem to finish in the middle. That’s the only frustrating thing. Our defense has been doing a tremendous job and that has led to the turnaround this season.”
That put Naugatuck in the second round against South-West Conference champion Bunnell. The No. 4 Bulldogs got a hat trick from senior striker Zach Zurita and that was the difference in the Greyhounds’ 3-1 loss on Monday in Stratford.
“Bunnell is a very powerful team loaded with seniors who made the Class L championship game last year,” Nunes said. “We got to some loose balls weren’t able to finish. They made the most of their opportunities.”
Branco scored the lone goal for the Greyhounds (12-7-1) off an assist from Kinne. Mike Martins, Matt Schumacher and Kinne keyed the defensive effort with Anthony Pohorilak making five saves against Bunnell (17-2-2).
“Nolan Kinne sacrificed offensive opportunities for the good of the team when I sent him back there on defense,” Nunes said. “That made a huge difference along with the play of Schumacher. You really can’t measure the difference it makes to play in a state tournament.”
Nunes said this season was a learning experience.
“We as a coaching staff had to learn along with the team as the season went on,” Nunes said. “We had a lot of younger players out there and that experience took time to develop. We lost 17 seniors last year but the effect of this year’s seniors has been the reason that we went as far as we did.
“The proudest moment was how we ended up the season compared to how we started,” Nunes said. “But my motto is, if you can look in the mirror and the guy in front of you says you did everything you could, then it was a good day.”