‘Hounds ready for new roles

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Naugatuck High senior and girls soccer captain Taylor Campos, front center, and fellow seniors, from left, Sarah Hanks, Jami Dwy, Stefanie Flores, Lily Detuzzi, Latisha Brockington, Kassandra Colon and Sandra Dinis will Naugatuck this season. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck High senior and girls soccer captain Taylor Campos, front center, and fellow seniors, from left, Sarah Hanks, Jami Dwy, Stefanie Flores, Lily Detuzzi, Latisha Brockington, Kassandra Colon and Sandra Dinis will Naugatuck this season. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Two years ago the Naugatuck girls soccer team stumbled down the stretch losing the final two regular season games before falling in the semifinals of the Naugatuck Valley League tournament. Last season, the Greyhounds rebounded and played in the NVL championship game for the sixth time in a seven-year period.

The Greyhounds came up short to NVL champion Watertown in a contest decided by penalty kicks.

Naugatuck comes into this season working overtime to stay in the hunt as the team lost 13 players to graduation, including leading scorer and two-time All-NVL player Alexya Alves.

The Greyhounds also lost a bulk of a staunch defense that propelled Naugatuck on a late run. The Greyhounds finished the season winning eight of the last 10 regular season games, six by shutouts, to finish 14-7.

Naugatuck will need to replace All-Copper goalie Cailah Baranowski, who left with 30 career shutouts on her resume, All-NVL player Kelly Koslosky along with All-Copper defenders Emma Colucci and Angelina Piccirillo.

“There’s no doubt about it that we lost quite a bit from last season,” Naugatuck head coach Sean Dunn said. “We lost eight of our 11 starters to graduation. But we made it back to the NVL championship game and made it farther in the states then we had in the past five years.”

Dunn said it was tough losing the NVL title game in penalty kicks, but the experience gave the returning players confidence.

“It was a tough way to end it losing the championship game by PK’s, but for the girls they would have been even more disappointed if they awarded co-champions. Going through that experience has given the returning players a lot more confidence in their abilities coming into this season.”

There are a lot of open positions, but coach Dunn is looking for the returning nine seniors and nine juniors to step in and fill the roles needed to keep the Greyhounds competitive.
Naugatuck will be led by senior captain Taylor Campos, who will take on a new role this season. Campos will be an integral part of the offense after building her reputation as a solid defender.

Seniors Stefanie Flores (defense), Sandra Dinis (forward) and Suzana Amaral (outside midfielder) will also take on new roles in leading the Greyhounds in the NVL’s new three division format as one of the top teams in the Iron Division.

Naugatuck will have some strong company within the division with Torrington, Wolcott, Watertown and Woodland all vying for the division title. The three division champions in the Iron, Brass and Copper divisions will meet up with five at-large teams based on records to compete in the NVL tournament.

“The key to our success is the juniors, sophomores and even some of the freshman stepping up and filling in the roles left by the seniors we lost to graduation,” Campos said. “I’m looking forward to taking on a bigger role in the offense. Sophomore Kyla Magalhaes and I have been working well together and with the speed to the outside from Sara Marques we should be able to put pressure on our opponent’s defense.”

Marques, a junior, will be one of the keys to open up the offensive game and Dunn is also looking for juniors Tricia Nolan (center midfielder), Hannah Lauer (outside midfielder) and sophomore Magalhaes to show vast improvement after gaining the confidence and experience from last year’s NVL title run.

In order to stay in the hunt the Greyhounds will need to bring a solid defense to the field. Junior Andrea Mercer will be one of the key stoppers out in front of the net to assist junior goalie Sophie Boucher, who saw varsity minutes last season.

“We are more than ready to meet the challenge,” Campos said. “In the preseason we have grown a lot closer and have developed a close-knit unit. We are not playing for ourselves we are playing for each other.

“When we get out on the field it will be the little things done right that will make the biggest difference. Being one of the seniors on this team I want to help the younger players to play to the best of their ability. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I feel with the work ethic that we have, we have the opportunity to have a very successful season.”

Naugatuck will get right after it as they open the season at home on Sept. 9 against last year’s NVL semifinalist Woodland. The Greyhounds will head to Watertown Sept. 11 for a rematch of last year’s NVL championship.