Naugatuck, Woodland boys get off to successful start

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By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News

Naugatuck’s Arthur Oliveira (16) controls the ball as Newtown’s Gunnar Bozentko (8) defends during a game Sept. 18 at Naugatuck High School. -STEVEN VALENTI REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

Last season, it seemed to take a little while before the wheels get rolling for teams since most of the typical preseason activities were curtailed due to COVID-19 restrictions. This season has been much different.

“I think having an entire preseason to prepare for the upcoming season has made a big difference,” Woodland boys soccer coach Kenan Collins said. “Last year, we couldn’t even have contact for like two weeks and there was really no scrimmage outside of playing against ourselves.”

The Hawks battled Brookfield from the South West Conference to a 1-1 draw Sept. 9 to open the season. Woodland then rattled off wins over Watertown, 3-2, Sept. 11, Wolcott, 8-0, Sept. 14 and Ansonia, 9-0, to start 3-0-1.

“I think we come into this season better prepared and have a better idea of where our strengths and weakness are,” Collins said. “We have a strong senior class and they are playing key roles in bringing this team along helping us reach our potential.”

Preston Alessio scored the only goal for the Hawks against Brookfield. DJ Mulligan made eight saves in the net.

The Hawks found multiple scorers to get the job done against Watertown. Alessio and Nate Swercewski tallied goals, and Alexander Farr scored the game-winner on a penalty kick. Mulligan turned back two shots in net.

The Hawks unleashed a potent attack in the win over Wolcott, turning a slim 2-0 halftime lead into a run away.

Farr led the offense with three goals and two assists. Alessio scored twice and dished out three assists, while Diego Sargent added a goal and Swercewski chipped in with an assist. Mulligan turned in the shutout in the net, making one save.

Alessio has four goals against Ansonia to lead the Hawks. Sean Hussey, Sean Swanson, John Sizer, Mulligan and Connor Cull each scored.

Woodland has a week off before taking on Holy Cross on Sept. 24.

A stout defense has long been the staple of Naugatuck boys soccer. That was evident in the Greyhounds’ season-opening 2-0 win over St. Paul on Sept. 11.

Michael Souza and Simon Diaz put goals in the back of the net to pace the Hounds, and the Naugy defense did its part. Louis Zarrella had two saves in net to record the shutout.

The Greyhounds felt the impact of a shortage of school bus drivers early on this season. Naugatuck’s Sept. 14 against Oxford was rescheduled when the Wolverines couldn’t get a bus to take them to the borough.

“The problem is everywhere,” Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne said. “We are adjusting by having earlier bus times for after-school games.”

The Greyhounds moved up their game Sept. 17 against Kennedy, so players could catch a bus to Municipal Stadium earlier for the 2:30 p.m. start and the bus can get back to the school in time for when classes ended.

The Greyhounds beat the Eagles, 7-0. Pedro Crivella and Eddie Przydzial scored two goals each to lead Naugy. Manny Silva, Aden Cruz and Adrian Szmitko each scored a goal.

Naugatuck fell to Newtown, 2-1, on Sept. 18 in a nonleague game. Diaz scored for the Greyhounds (2-1) on an assist by Gabe Williams. Zarrella made six saves for Naugatuck.

Naugatuck is set to take on Wilby on Sept. 21 and Waterbury Career on Sept. 24.