By Kyle Brennan, Citizen’s News
TORRINGTON — It’s a common occurrence in Naugatuck Valley League boys soccer for either Naugatuck or Woodland — or both — to play in the conference championship match.
But this is 2021, and what happens these days is anything but common.
The No. 2-seeded Hawks and No. 4-seeded Greyhounds both fell in the NVL semifinals Nov. 2 at Torrington High.
Woodland, which entered its semifinal match with a 14-0-3 record, suffered its first defeat of the season in a 1-0 decision against third-seeded Watertown.
The Warriors, the new mascot name by which Watertown is known, netted the match’s only goal midway through the first half when Justin Calabrese bent in a corner kick past Hawks goalie D.J. Mulligan.
The Hawks had plenty of chances, putting 12 shots on net, but Lucas Fenn stopped all dozen attempts. Mulligan made five saves for Woodland, which had reached the semifinal thanks to a 1-0 win over Torrington on Nov. 1. Aldin Jahja netted the Hawks’ lone goal in that contest.
In the other semifinal, unbeaten and top-seeded Holy Cross cruised past the Greyhounds, 4-1, with a dominant first-half effort. Patrick Osiecki’s direct-kick goal just 1:45 into the match gave the Crusaders the early lead, and they never looked back en route to a 3-0 halftime lead.
Adrian Szmitko found Simon Diaz in the second half for Naugy’s only tally. The loss dropped the Greyhounds to 10-6-2 on the year. They were in the semifinals thanks to a 2-1 win over Oxford on Nov. 1, when Diaz and Vinny Dos Santos found the back of the net and Danny Anderson made eight saves.
The state tournament is set to begin Nov. 9. Woodland owns the No. 5 seed in Class M and is scheduled to host No. 28 Windham Tech in the first round, with a potential second-round matchup against Ellington or Lewis Mills on deck Nov. 11.
In Class LL, No. 15 Naugatuck is set for a first-round matchup with No. 18 Hamden on Nov. 9. The winner is scheduled for a trip to second-seeded Hall of West Hartford on Nov. 11.