NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls soccer team has played in the NVL title game five seasons in a row, with only one championship in 2009 to show for their efforts.
The Greyhound’s goal this season is to finish strong by winning an NVL title and then go deep in the state tournament.
“It has been a scenario for us in the past,” Naugatuck head coach Sean Dunn said. “We make it to the NVL championship game and that’s where it ends. In the last three or four years we have been knocked out in the first round of the states. We want to take that extra step this season. Win an NVL title and then go deep in the state tournament.”
Dunn is in his second year at the helm for the Greyhounds with assistant coaches Dave Ciskowski and Kim Zavodjansik by his side working hard to put Naugatuck on a track to finish strong.
Naugatuck will be led by senior captain Carla Gomes along with junior captains Katarina Gullotta (midfield) and Kelly Koslosky (defense).
The Greyhounds will need to replace three-quarters of stingy defense that allowed just 28 goals in the last three seasons including goal keeper Kaitlyn Carter, midfielders Katherine Bottinick and Lauren Piroscafo along with defenders Isabella Verrilli, Isabelle Moody and Kaitlyn Deptula.
“We didn’t lose a lot of players number wise but what we did lose will be hard to replace,” Dunn said. “Those seniors were key players to the success that we had over the past three or four years.”
Dunn is looking to the team’s junior class to fill the void.
“We come into this season with a very strong junior class that has bonded real well together,” Dunn said.
The Greyhounds may be young but they are experienced and possess a lot of talent. Junior goal keeper Cailah Baranowski saw quite a bit of time in the net last year and will lead the defensive unit this season.
Kosolsky is a two-year starter on defense and will be joined by junior Emma Colucci and sophomore Taylor Campos who played a variety of roles last season. Junior Christina Batista will serve as another goal keeper for the Greyhounds.
Gullotta will lead a midfield that will have juniors Jess Butler, Angelina Piccorillo, and Christina Jando lending their experience.
“The strength of this team is going to be our defense and our midfielders,” Dunn said. “Keeping opponents from scoring will be the number one goal as in the past. We have experienced players in those positions.”
When the Lady Greyhounds need to create some offense they will look to senior forward Stephanie Lima who has established herself as a physical presence over the past few seasons.
Along with Lima will be the fleet-footed junior forward Alexya Alves who was one of the top scorers in the NVL last season.
Heading into the season Dunn is confident his team can make that deep run which has eluded them the past few years.
“I have seen a lot of good things during the preseason that gives me confidence that we will have a successful year,” Dunn said. “A couple of our younger players have stepped up and made an impact in a recent jamboree at Newtown.
“Freshman Raina Ceryak on defense and Sara Marques at forward have really shown promise. Sophomore Stefanie Flores who played freshman and JV last year has really improved her defense.”
Juniors Nina Marinaro and Jess Case will also be vying for playing time giving the Greyhounds the depth and experience to finish the season strong.
Naugatuck will open the season on Tuesday at Sacred Heart and will be at home on Sept.14 for a 6 p.m. contest with St. Paul.