BY KEN MORSE
Defense has always been a strong point when it comes to girls soccer in Naugatuck. It has been that consistency on defense that has steered the Greyhounds to several league championship runs.
Over the past few years, the DeFilippo sisters have been a force on the defensive side of the ball. Senior Sophia (All-State, All-NVL) will lead the charge while her junior sister Ava will make an impact as well.
“I have a lot of expectations coming into my senior year as an All-State, All-NVL player,” said Sophia. “I would like to have the same kind of successful season but I’m looking forward more to the overall team’s success than to any personal goals I set for myself.
“I have been playing with a lot of these girls since we were in youth soccer, so we know each other and our tendencies, but playing in the backfield with my sister (Ava) we probably know one another better than anyone. We are always backing each other up and encouraging one another. I just love playing with her.”
Two seasons ago the defense allowed just seven goals while the offense tallied 42, which helped the Greyhounds to an 8-2-1 mark. They were ready to make a run in the NVL tournament before the postseason was canceled by the CIAC.
“Playing defense as a unit takes a lot of communication,” added Sophia. “Obviously having my sister with me in the backfield, we work well together and know each other’s moves before we even make them. I think that helps us to be a more cohesive defensive unit. That will be even more important this year with sophomore Bethany Carroll taking over as our goalkeeper.”
Last year was a challenge for Naugy as they finished at 7-8-2 with a roster of only 16 players. They did manage to achieve two goals in qualifying for both the NVL tournament and the Class LL tournament as well.
Naugy did have its struggles against teams outside the NVL, and against Woodland and Holy Cross, the two teams that went head-to-head for the title.
The numbers have been in a steady decline from 25 in the 2019 (10-6-3) season and the 21 players on the 2020 squad. Sophia hopes to help deliver more success for the Hounds this season.
“What I like most about Sophia is she is a quiet powerhouse,” said Naugy coach Lisa Mariano. “She reads the game very well and leads by example. Being able to give direction to our keeper is going to be key for us.”
Sometimes it’s best to work with what you have and Mariano did her best in utilizing the players she had. It lent to team diversity with players learning to play multiple positions and progress was made finding a competitive rhythm.
“We have a good core of players coming back,” added Mariano. “Having Sophia and Ava back there on defense, they communicate without ever saying a word. They already know what the other one is going to do. It’s fun to watch siblings play because beyond the healthy competition they have each other’s back.
Naugy does have an effective core to provide team balance, led by seniors Lauren Sonski (All-NVL forward), Thalia Jardin, Rana Aljamal and Aubrey Deller, along with junior Layla Nemeth.
The Greyhounds will get the season underway on Thursday, Sept. 8, taking on Brookfield at 3:45 p.m. at Veterans Field.
DeFilippo sisters ready to lead Greyhound girls soccer defense
BY KEN MORSE