Kinne continues soccer legacy at Naugatuck

Naugatuck High boys soccer coach Ryan Kinne celebrates with the team after the Greyhounds beat Watertown, 3-1, in the NVL boys soccer championship game Nov. 2 at Seymour High School. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The legacy of Naugatuck boys soccer hasn’t skipped a beat under the guidance of second-year head coach Ryan Kinne.

In two seasons at the helm, the former Greyhound has guided Naugatuck to a 33-2-5 record and back-to-back NVL championships — the latest coming in a 3-1, overtime victory over Watertown Nov. 2 at Seymour High School.

“Winning the NVL is a nice trophy and something that we hope to challenge for every year,” said Kinne, who went on to star at Monmouth University and play professionally for the New England Revolution after high school, following the NVL title game. “The ultimate goal is to compete for a state championship. There is no doubt that we have the talent. If we can find consistency in finishing on offense then we can be a very dangerous team.”

Former head coach Art Nunes was the architect of the boys soccer legacy. In 21 seasons, Nunes led the Greyhounds to a 331-50-22 record, 14 NVL championships and back-to-back state titles in 2001 and 2002.

“Coach Nunes was such a fantastic coach and did so much for this program,” Kinne said. “It’s my job now to continue that, and there really is no pressure to do that because of the solid foundation that Coach Nunes built into this program.”

Nunes will forever be linked to arguably the greatest goal ever scored in Naugatuck soccer history when Brian Mariano, who is now Naugatuck’s athletic director, completed a somersault flip throw-in that traveled 45 yards for a goal to win the 2001 Class LL state championship.

Now, in his second year patrolling the sidelines, Kinne will forever be linked to another goal that will go down in Naugatuck soccer lore — the game-winner in last week’s NVL championship game.

Senior goal keeper and NVL tournament MVP Aren Seeger took a free kick about 60 yards from the Watertown goal with hopes of getting it close enough to give his teammates a chance to take the lead in overtime with the NVL title hanging in the balance.

Seeger had shown all game long what he was capable of by clearing balls that traveled 60 and sometimes 70 yards down field. What happened next is one for the record books. Seeger booted a drive that settled into the upper 90 of the Watertown net for the eventual game-winner.

“Aren is a really special player and a fantastic kid,” Kinne said. “He’s a very special talent that we are fortunate to have on our team.”

When fans and sports enthusiast mention Nunes and Naugatuck boys soccer they will always bring up the Mariano flip-in throw that won their first state championship. For as long as Kinne is coaching the Greyhounds, and beyond, he will forever be linked to one of the greatest goals ever witnessed in the NVL tournament.

“It is truly an honor to be able to put my own imprints on this program,” Kinne said. “It’s much more than soccer itself, it’s about making these kids into outstanding men in college and beyond. That’s the legacy that Coach Nunes left to this program.”