WATERBURY – So let’s see, Naugatuck has scored eight goals in two Naugatuck Valley League girls’ soccer tournament games and Nicole Sambrook has five of those scores attached to her foot with a couple of assists for good measure.
You might say that Miss Sambrook is making a pretty good bid to make this tournament her tournament. There’s still a championship game to be played Wednesday night at 5 p.m., at Municipal Stadium’s Ray Snyder Sr. Field, but she is building her case.
Sambrook is no secret, part of the NVL’s best duo along with teammate Stephanie Santos, but her game is on display right now as Torrington found out in the frigid fall air Monday night.
Two goals and an assist on the third, all in the second half, in a 3-0 victory over Torrington. Heck, they even took two goals away from Sambrook, both on off-side calls, one in each half. It didn’t matter except to spike the old blood pressure a few points and make Torrington’s life ever more difficult.
“I was so mad,” said Sambrook with one of those you shouldn’t have done that twinkles in her eye, “After they took the first one back I said come on. I had to score twice to get it back.”
Naugatuck (14-1-2) has three non-wins this season, two of them coming against Torrington, a 4-2 loss the first meeting and a 1-1 tie the second time around. After Sambrook’s first half goal was called back and half ended in a 0-0 tie, the idea that the Red Raiders’ ability to frustrate the Greyhounds looked like it could continue.
“We beat `em, we tied `em and we were still hunkering down, lose or win, 1-0,” said Torrington coach Mario Longobucco.
The Raiders (14-2-1) didn’t quite hunker enough. At the 21:38 mark Sambrook blasted a shot from 10 yards out on the right side that caromed off of Brittany Kackowski’s thigh and into the net for the game’s first goal.
Just a warm-up. Less than two minutes later Santos fed Sambrook on the right side and from what appeared an almost impossible angle on the side, she somehow hammered the ball just inside the right post for a 2-0 lead.
“[Naugatuck coach Jose Sendra] has a multi-headed animal,” said Longobucco. “Both [Santos and Sambrook] are so dangerous.”
“They work so well together,” added the Raiders’ Taylor Christiano.
There would be a final goal from Sambrook to Katrina Gulotta, but the damage had been done.
“The bottom line is that we had some chances early and didn’t get them,” said Longobucco. “We had bad luck with the ball of Brittany’s thigh and the flood gates opened up. The bottom line is you play a good quality team three times they are going to get you.”
After an opening 10 minutes of Naugatuck control, the Raiders did even the game out. Sarah Royals was wide right off of a dead ball kick. Alyssa Otis narrowly missed putting the Raiders ahead when she knocked one off of the crossbar. Michaela Bottari’s header just went wide of the post.
Chances missed and they wouldn’t be repeated. Naugatuck outshot the Raiders, 10-0 in the second half and 20-7 for the game.
Asked what the Greyhounds were able to do in game No. 3 between the two teams as opposed to the first two, Sambrook said, “finish.”
She should know, she was the finisher and the Greyhounds’ game was on display.
“Our attack is not one-dimensional,” said coach Jose Sendra. “If we can’t get the ball to the middle, we go to the flanks. Nicole played a great game and Stephanie is our engine.”
Who could argue.