WATERBURY — After Naugatuck’s 1-0 loss to Woodland in the Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinals last Saturday, ‘Hounds head coach Art Nunes put his arm around Nolan Kinne and praised his effort.
Kinne followed the game plan, kept one of the conference’s best scorers in check and led the Greyhounds to an impressive defensive effort. The moment illustrated the Greyhounds’ progress.
“I put the burden on him,” Nunes said of Kinne. “And our midfield stepped up.”
The ‘Hounds (11-6-1) outplayed an undefeated Woodland (17-0-1) team, but came up short in the final score.
On Oct. 7, Woodland beat the Greyhounds 6-2 in Beacon Falls. The Hawks’ Eric Dietz did the damage with five goals.
Naugy was determined to not let that lopsided result happen again. They succeeded last Saturday.
In a much closer score, Dietz still found a way to beat the Greyhounds, this time scoring a goal two minutes into the game that stood the entire way.
“They held Eric in check today,” Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho said. “He couldn’t get loose.”
Despite the win, Moutinho admitted the Hawks were fortunate.
“We got away with one today,” Moutinho said. “Give Naugy credit. They outplayed us the rest of the game.”
The Greyhounds had won three of four entering the NVL tournament.
Late regular-season victories over Sacred Heart, Torrington and Derby propelled Naugy in the standings, and the quarterfinal victory on Friday was another example of its progress.
The Greyhounds defeated Ansonia, 3-2, the previous day in the quarters. Adam Branco scored two goals while Kinne added another. Anthony Pohorilak made eight saves.
The next day’s match illustrated another step in the right direction for Naugy.
After Dietz’s goal in the semifinal, Naugy kept constant pressure on Woodland and outshot the Hawks, 10-3—it seemed like more.
“One mistake was the difference,” Kinne said.
Although the argument could be made Dietz’s goal wasn’t a mistake—it was a lucky bounce. Dietz collected a rebound and chipped a shot over the keeper for the match’s only goal.
“I just followed [Mike] Segala to the box, the ball came to me, the keeper came out and I chipped it in over his head,” Dietz said.
Naugy’s closest scoring chance came when Ygor Silva lofted a shot from 20 yards out that sailed off the crossbar with under a minute to go in the first half. Woodland’s defense held on.
“We were looking forward to this game,” Nunes said. “We weren’t the same team from the last game [against Woodland]. Give all the credit to Woodland. They have a great season going.”
Nunes indicated that he was pleased with the team’s recent efforts, and they could mean Naugy may be a tough out in the upcoming state tournament. The Greyhounds open tournament play on Friday with a likely home match as approximately the No. 13 seed.
“The kids are believing in everything we’re doing,” Nunes said.