NAUGATUCK — After missing out on the postseason two years ago, the Naugatuck girls soccer team turned things around last season by posting nine wins and earning a spot in the Naugatuck Valley League and state tournaments.
“We are always looking to improve from year to year,” Naugatuck head coach Lisa Mariano said. “The girls are excited after coming off a nine-win season. They see our potential and what we are capable of.”
Naugatuck lost two games by 2-1 margins in the final week of the regular season before falling to eventual NVL champion St. Paul by one goal in the first round of the league tournament.
In the state tournament, the Greyhounds fell in the opening round to East Lyme, 4-3, in a game decided by four rounds of penalty kicks. Although the end of the season was a disappointment, it marked a huge improvement over the past two seasons.
“We were close in a couple of games that could have went either way,” Mariano said. “That makes them hungry and they are ready to go.”
Naugatuck will be led by senior captains Mia Rotatori and Sofia Marques along with fellow seniors Catarina Rego and Alyssa Zarella, and junior goal keeper Sydney O’Donnell.
The Greyhounds offense got a spark last year when some younger players stepped up, including junior Paige Cruz and sophomores Noelle Jacobi, Emma Sonski, Angelina Oliveira and Aalyiah Henry.
Naugatuck lost last year’s senior co-captains Alyana Sosa and Erin Doris, and Makayla Teixeira, Macie Best, Hailey Boulanger and Abigail Pruchnicki to graduation.
“The biggest loss from graduation is we lose our entire defensive backfield,” Mariano said. “We are ready to make some adjustments, but having Sydney back in goal is a good place to start.”
“We are confident that we will be able to keep the same intensity in the back that we had last year,” Mariano added. “I think some of the younger girls who stepped up last year know what the expectations are and they will be ready to pick it up.”
Naugatuck kicks the season off on Thursday at home against Watertown before welcoming Seymour to the borough on Sept. 11.