NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls soccer team is hard at work trying to erase the bitter taste of how the season ended last year. The Greyhounds lost their final two regular season games, the semifinals of the Naugatuck Valley League tournament and the opening round of the Class L state tournament.
At 10-7-1, Naugatuck didn’t strike the same level of fear into their opponents as they have in the past. The NVL is getting more and more competitive every season and Naugatuck will need to pick up the intensity level to remain in the hunt.
“The team is looking to make a strong push to the postseason as they have in the past,” Naugatuck head coach Sean Dunn said. “I certainly hope the league continues to get stronger because that will only help us to get better in the process.”
The good part of the equation is the ‘Hounds lost only three seniors to graduation last year and the majority of the returning players are experienced and confident to finish what they started.
Naugatuck will be led by a pair of two-time captains: senior center midfielder Katarina Gullotta and Kelly Koslosky, who will move to midfield after being named an All-Copper Division defender last season.
“I think we kind of fell apart at the end of last season,” Gullotta said. “We have the speed, the senior leadership and the experience. If we stay together and play as a family nothing can stop the talent on this team.”
Two other key components to success will be senior forward Alexya Alves and senior goalkeeper Cailah Baranowski. Baranowski recorded her 18th career shutout last season. Alves was an All-NVL forward, scoring 15 goals and five assists (both team-highs) after earning All-Copper honors as a sophomore.
“Cailah is very agile and shows good foot skills and a solid punting ability,” Dunn said. “Koslosky is an excellent passer and sees the field very well. That’s why we felt it was in the best interest of the team to move her over to midfield. Alexya is our key threat on offense. If she has another strong season like last year she could get to the 50-goal mark in her career.”
The defense will be the key at keeping Naugatuck out of any extended slumps. Sophomore Sophie Boucher will serve as the backup goalie with seniors Emma Colucci and Jess Butler shoring up the defense from the back row.
“The defense will definitely be the strength of our team,” Koslosky said. “Having the ability to bring it from the back to the front will start us in the right direction.”
When it comes time to put pressure on opponents, junior Sandra Dinis and sophomore Sara Marques will team up with Alves to keep Naugatuck in the zone.
If there is any one spot Naugatuck is stacked at it’s in the midfield position. Seniors Angelina Piccirillo and Christina Jando team up with junior Taylor Campos to provide a physical presence over the middle along with some very intimidating speed.
“I guess the overcrowding at the midfield position is a very good problem to have,” Dunn said. “I think the biggest stumbling block will be to get a whole new defensive set on the same page.”
Naugatuck will get the season underway Sept. 12 at Breen Field against neighboring rival Woodland.