NAUGATUCK — It was billed as the first big-time battle of the season. Undefeated Holy Cross (3-0) taking on undefeated Naugatuck (3-0) in a boys’ soccer shootout in the borough Wednesday night.
A good-sized but relatively quiet crowd was on hand to watch two of the best in the Naugatuck Valley League go toe-to-toe. In the end, Cross got Martinized, as the Greyhounds remained perfect in a 4-2 victory. Junior forward Tiago Martins ripped off his third hat trick in four games to spark the offense and assisted on a goal by Nolan Kinne as Naugatuck improved to 4-0 on the season.
In four games, the junior captain has scored 11 of the Greyhounds’ 16 goals, but in Martins’ words, this was a total team effort, as always.
“This is hardly a one-man team,” Martins said. “It takes all 11 of us out there giving it our all in order to be successful. I may be scoring goals, but it’s my teammates that create those opportunities. We work together as a unit out there, and we are picking each other up.”
Junior goalkeeper Dan Bronko came in with three straight shutouts and held Holy Cross at bay until the game was well in hand, spelled in net by Charlie Morrill. The Crusaders managed to get on the scoreboard with 10:19 to play, but Naugatuck was already out in front by a commanding, 3-0 margin.
Both teams scored late goals with less than two minutes to play to account for the 4-2 final margin. Naugatuck drew first blood when a hand ball in the box created a penalty kick opportunity, and Martins pounded it into the back of the net with 22:08 to play in the first half.
Ralph Roper muscled his way past a defender and got an open shot for Martins on the right side with 6:47 left before the half, as the Hounds upped their advantage to 2-0.
With 14:30 on the clock in the second half, Naugatuck had the game well in hand when Martins dished it off to Nolan Kinne, who took it to the near post to open up a 3-0 lead.