NAUGATUCK — Oftentimes in the competitive world of sports, records offer very little indication as to the outcome of the battle at hand. In Friday’s boys soccer showdown at Naugatuck, the Greyhounds came in with a 7-0-1 mark, allowing only three goals in eight games.
Woodland entered the fray a shadow of the team that dominated the Naugatuck Valley League last season. The 4-3-1 Hawks had been on a rollercoaster ride after losing lots of production from last year’s championship run.
But anytime Naugatuck and Woodland are on the same playing field the spirit of the rivalry takes over. Naugatuck took the lead four times over the Hawks and each time Woodland answered the call, coming away with a 4-4 draw against the Greyhounds.
“This is a big rivalry,” Woodland coach Tony Moutinho said. “We lost quite a few players from last year but these kids came in here not wanting to get embarrassed.”
“Give Woodland all the credit,” Naugatuck coach Art Nunes said. “They seemed to have an answer every time we scored. They always seem to find a way to dial it up when they play us.”
It only took the Greyhounds three minutes to get on the board. Danny Silva took a pass from Joe Martins and brought it down the sidelines. Silva caught a streaking Adam Branco (three goals) just outside the top of the box and Branco lifted a laser inside the right post and past the dive of Woodland goalie Pat Dietz (18 saves) for the 1-0 advantage.
The Hawks missed their first chance to answer when Naugy goalkeeper Fez Pereira (four saves) slipped as he charged the play but Tyler Saad cleared the ball out of harm’s way.
But in the 13th minute Vigan Pacuku (goal, two assists) steered an advance down the sidelines deep into the Naugatuck defense. Pat Skroly received a pass at the post, turned and got one just past Pereira’s reach to tie the game at 1-1.
Branco scored his second goal four minutes later when Ygor Silva’s shot rebounded off the crossbar and Branco cleaned it up for a 2-1 that stood until the second half.
Eight minutes into the second half a defensive breakdown in the box allowed Pacuku to find Nick LaPerriere (two goals) alone at the post for a goal that tied the game at 2-2.
“Naugatuck is real tough on defense over the middle,” Moutinho said. “We had to try and pick our spots by attacking down the sidelines.”
With 22 minutes left in regulation, Jason Goja (goal, assist) planted one over Dietz on a free kick from 30 yards out for a 3-2 Naugatuck lead.
But Woodland wasn’t through, capitalizing on a handball call inside the box. Pacuku nailed the penalty shot with 13:04 to play to tie the game for the third time at 3-3.
The game went into overtime and Branco completed his hat trick, scoring with 4:58 left in the first of two 10-minute extra periods.
For the final time, the Hawks tied it with 1:38 left in the first overtime when LaPerriere emerged from a pile up out in front to rip in a rebound and make it 4-4.
“Defense has been our staple so far this season,” Nunes said. “But Woodland came out with a lot of energy and determination. They just kept finding a way to come back.”
The teams battled through the second overtime with opportunities to put away the game but both goal keepers held their ground.
Naugatuck (8-2-2) lost to Pomperaug 1-0 last Saturday and fell to Holy Cross 3-0 on Monday in the Greyhounds’ first defeats of the season. They got back into the win column Tuesday with a 6-3 win over Kennedy. Naugy visits Sacred Heart on Friday before hosting Torrington on Tuesday night.
The Hawks (4-4-2) fell to St. Paul 2-1 on Tuesday. They host Seymour on Friday before road games next week at Wilby on Oct. 17 and Crosby on Oct. 19.