NAUGATUCK — For the sixth time in the nine-year history of the NVL boys soccer tournament, the championship trophy belongs to Naugatuck.
The No. 1 Greyhounds defeated No. 2 Oxford, 3-0, Nov. 3 at Naugatuck High School to win their fourth straight NVL title.
“We were not about to lose this game at home in front of our fans,” said Matt Carroll, who scored in all three tournament games to win tournament MVP honors. “It was very important to go out there and set the tone, and once we got that first goal we needed to play our game.”
They say that offense wins games and defense wins championships. The Greyhounds (16-0-3) went out and proved that this year. Naugatuck allowed a paltry three goals all season, a school record.
Oxford (15-3-1) is one of the three teams that have found the back of the net against the Greyhounds this year, having salvaged a 1-1 tie in the regular season. However, with Naugatuck playing on their home field with a championship on the line, the Greyhounds were not about to let Oxford put one in the net again.
The Greyhounds set the tone early by striking in the first three minutes of the game.
Christian Jacobi turned on the speed and separated from an Oxford defender before steering a pass on the dead run to Vinny Knupp over the middle. Knupp quickly spotted Carroll breaking into the box from the right corner and the pass caught him in full stride. Carroll wasted no time and sent a blast to the back of the net for a 1-0 lead with 36:20 left in the first half.
Oxford was playing in its first NVL championship game and didn’t get there by accident. The Wolverines came in with 15 wins under their belt and a lot of confidence after playing Naugatuck to a tie in the regular season.
The body checks along the sidelines were met with a purpose and reserved for that of a hockey game. Oxford turned up the pressure late in the first half, but had trouble penetrating Naugy’s backline of Devon Curtis, Yan Silva, David Ruela and Gabriel Carrelo.
The Wolverines were forced to try and score from just outside the box. Aaron King lifted a ball from 30 yards out with 5 minutes left in the first half forcing Naugatuck keeper Aren Seeger to leave his feet to secure the ball and keep Oxford off the scoreboard.
“This is a great defense out in front of me,” said Seeger, who made nine saves. “They never give up and if I get in trouble they are always there to bail me out.”
There wasn’t much bailing out to do in the second half as the Greyhounds quickly added to their lead.
Jake Corbo and Pedro DeSouza were winning 50/50 balls over the middle and Thomas Martins took off with an advance up field. Pedro Mendes received a lead pass and headed into the box but was sent to the turf in a head-over-heels takedown. Naugy was awarded a penalty kick and Gabriel Carrelo capitalized to open up a 2-0 advantage with 32:10 left to play.
With 15:16 left in the game Candido Carrelo got a pass out to Marco Rebelo on an advance into Oxford territory. Brandon Vieira received a pass from the left side and fired a shot just inside the post to increase the lead to 3-0 and end any hopes of an Oxford comeback.
“Goal number one on the season was to be here playing for an NVL title,” said first-year Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne, who was named NVL coach of the Year right before he receiving his first post-game water bucket shower. “We had a good run with 16 wins and three ties in 19 games but we have bigger goals to go after in the state tournament.
“This feels great but we have a shot to compete for state championship. So it’s back to work next week and work towards that goal and I’m very excited about that opportunity.”
Naugatuck earned to top seed in the Class LL tournament. The Greyhounds opened the tournament on Tuesday with a 3-0 win over No. 33 Kennedy (8-10-1).
Vieira had two goals against Kennedy and Knupp added one, as well. DeSouza (2) and Pedro Mendes had assists.
Naugatuck will host No. 16 Fairfield Prep on Thursday at 4 p.m. in the second round.