Changes coming to NVL

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The Naugatuck Valley League will function differently in 2018-19.

The league will fundamentally change how eight championships are decided, and it starts this fall. The change is for cross country, swimming, indoor track, outdoor track and maybe golf.

Dual-meet results will not carry over into the championship meet. Dual meets will count, but only toward a divisional championship.

The NVL champion is the team that wins the championship meet, period.

“The dual meets will decide the division titles,” NVL President and St. Paul Athletic Director David Dennehy explained. “Those times will still dictate lane assignments, so the regular season still has clout.”

A coach can now set workouts so that athletes peak at championship meet time for states, the Open, New Englands and beyond.

“Rather than push kids in a league dual meet, now they can taper,” Dennehy said. “They don’t have to compete in a meet midweek when a coach doesn’t need every point.”

The idea is to keep kids healthy and allow rest when needed. A coach can use different lineups, rest athletes with nagging injuries and prepare them for big end-of-season meets.

Golf is not yet on board, but by the time the NVL tournament is played in the spring of 2019, that may change.

NVL girls soccer will use two divisions, not three. The Brass Division is no more. The Copper Division will be Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, Holy Cross and Woodland. The Iron Division will be Naugatuck, Torrington, Watertown, Wolcott, Sacred Heart and St. Paul.

Someday, if the Waterbury public schools add girls soccer, this may change again.

Teams play twice against division opponents, with four cross-over games based on a power schedule. All teams continue to play two out-of-league games. Instead of six divisional games deciding a championship amongst four teams, it will be 10 games amongst six.

“With this shift we have good, competitive balance in the girls soccer divisions,” Dennehy said.

There is a change for boys too. NVL boys soccer teams will get two out-of-conference games, not just one. The league will stay with the three-division format for boys, but with a power schedule. Unbeaten Naugatuck would not play winless Derby, for example, but teams will still only play each other once.

Lastly, when the fall season arrives the NVL will have a new look. St. Paul Catholic moves from the Copper Division to Iron, and Woodland goes from Iron to Copper.

“When St. Paul came into the NVL we had an enrollment of 260 students,” Dennehy said, and thus, the Falcons were placed in a division with like-sized schools.

But St. Paul’s enrollment is now 450, and the move to the Iron sets up rivalries with Wolcott and Torrington. Likewise, Woodland’s move to the Copper Division places the Hawks in a Valley division, with natural rivals like Seymour and Oxford.

It is smarter, “geographically and rivalry-wise,” Dennehy added.