The Naugatuck girls’ soccer team battled with the Woodland Hawks last Thursday at the Vet and it took a last-second goal for the Hounds to pull out a 3-2 victory. Nicole Sambrook took a crossing pass from Cristina Sendra, sending in the game-winning goal over the Hawks with a 20 yard strike with just 27 seconds remaining on the scoreboard clock.
It’s been that kind of season throughout the NVL this year, with white knuckle finishes and edge-of-your seat victories, as teams are gearing up for a final push toward the NVL tournament.
Naugatuck had bounced back from its first loss of the season, a 4-2 setback at the hands of Torrington. Woodland came into the fray playing its third game in four days but it hardly showed as the energetic Hawks raced up and down the field, staying even with the Hounds.
Sambrook booted a pass through the Woodland defense and ten minutes into the game Stephanie Santos wound up and found the back of the net on a low line drive just inside the post.
Raven Palmerie (two goals) got the Hawks even, sending a direct kick up and over the top of Naugatuck goalkeeper Cailah Baranowski (three saves) with ten minutes remaining in the first half.
The Woodland momentum was short lived as Sambrook (two goals) came down the field on the next Greyhound possession and beat Hawks goalkeeper Alma Rizvani to the post for a 2-1 Naugatuck advantage.
Palmerie scored on another direct kick in the second half until Sambrook beat the clock and the Hawks with her last-second goal.
“That was a good, hard-fought game against Woodland,” said Naugatuck head coach Jose Sendra. “[Hawks coach] Joe Fortier does a great job at Woodland and the Hawks are a very good team. We knew we had to play our game and Nicole has been our target for much of the season. We are certainly looking forward to the rematch on Friday. If we continue to play our game we can compete with anyone in this league.”
The Hounds had an important rematch on Friday when they battled Torrington to a 1-1 tie. The Hounds outshot Torrington by a wide margin and held the Raiders without a shot in the first half.
Naugatuck saw plenty of opportunities miss the mark until Katelyn Deptula threw in a corner nine minutes into the second half. Sambrook settled the ball and fired a pass to Santos, who one-timed it, beating Torrington goalkeeper Kylie Okenquist to the post for a 1-0 lead.
With eight minutes left to play, Brittany Kackowski found Taylor Christiano with a pass over the middle, and the shot eluded Baranowski to tie the game at 1-1.
“In the second half we lost a little bit of our focus and Torrington was able to capitalize,” Sendra said. “We are still working on adjusting our defense. We had them the whole way and let it slip away from us.”
Woodland rebounded from the loss to Naugatuck by earning a hard-fought, 1-0 win over Wolcott last Friday. Riley Shaw scored an unassisted goal off a corner kick with three minutes to play as Rizvani made eight saves in the net for the Hawks.
Naugatuck started this week winning a 3-0 shutout at Seymour, improving to 7-1-1 on the season. Sambrook scored two goals and Santos added a goal as the Hounds gear up for a midweek battle against Pomperaug before the Woodland rematch on Friday.
The Hawks fell to 6-3-1 on Tuesday with a heartbreaking 2-1 overtime loss to 8-1-1 Torrington. Woodland will need to pull out all the stops to make a run at the NVL tournament as four games will remain in the regular season after this week’s action.