Dragons burn Greyhounds

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NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls soccer team was familiar with penalty kicks. After all, they already helped the Greyhounds win a tournament game. So there was no reason to feel anything but confident when the ‘Hounds entered penalty kicks with Hamden in last Thursday’s Class LL first round.

But Hamden goalkeeper Katelyn Murphy was just as confident, and she helped the No. 23 Green Dragons upset No. 10 Naugatuck, 2-1 (4-2 PK), to advance to the Class LL second round.

“I just wanted to relax,” Murphy said. “We trained well last practice. I had to be confident.”

After Naugatuck’s Kelly Koslosky and Isabella Verrilli and Hamden’s Ashley Wendland and Ciara Fennelly converted on the first four penalty kicks, Murphy made her first save by pushing Isabelle Moody’s shot off the right post and away from the net.

Rachel Ugolik gave Hamden a 3-2 lead with a line drive to the right side of the net before Murphy prevented another blast from Katarina Gullotta, this time near the left post.

Allegra Nottoli drilled the game-winner into the left side of the net, just out of reach for Naugatuck goalkeeper Kaitlin Carter.

“I was just trying to relax and make sure I kept focus and didn’t let it get to me,” Nottoli said. “I was just so happy. With the adrenaline going, I can’t even put it into words.”

Each of the Naugatuck (13-6) penalty kicks was on target but Murphy’s reads on the final two boots got the better of the Greyhounds.

“They were all confident,” Dunn said of his lineup. “Having [the same scenario] the other day made them confident, but their goalie made some good saves. It’s a 50/50 game sometimes and we just came out on the wrong end. It goes like that sometimes.”

Both teams scored goals in the first half before the last 60 minutes of play went scoreless. Naugatuck took the lead in the 29th minute when Katie Bottinick drilled a free kick from the right side of the 18-yard box that floated just over the leap of Murphy and into the left side of the net.

Four minutes later, though, Hamden (9-8-1) evened the score. Ugolik, who made a number of threatening runs all night, dribbled into the left side of the box, raced past two defenders, and fired it past Carter into the right side of the net.

The teams were deadlocked the rest of the way as both squads had opportunities at the end of the first half, throughout the second half, and in the two overtime periods.

“We came out a little bit flat at the beginning in the game, probably with the emotional letdown of the NVL title game (loss to Watertown),” Dunn said. “We made some changes at the half and held them in through the end of overtime. We just talked about what we needed to do in terms of us being too spread out. We wanted to let the defenders do their jobs and we would be OK.”

Dunn said he considers his first season at the helm of the Greyhounds a success.

“I’m extremely proud of them,” Dunn said. “Coming in as a new coach, to have them accept me and play as hard as they did the whole season, it’s fantastic.”