NAUGATUCK — The freight train that is the Naugatuck girls’ soccer squad continued to gain steam Monday night, putting together an impressive performance on both offense and defense en route to a 2-0 win over Woodland on a frigid night in the borough.
As has been the pattern all season for the Greyhounds, there was no superstar on either side of the ball. Four different players accounted for all four points in the match, including goal-scorers Danielle Charette and Natalia Carvalho, while a nearly impenetrable defense kept Woodland out of the 18-yard box for almost the entire 80 minutes to lead the Hounds to their 12th win in as many pitches.
“It’s so valuable to have tons of people scoring for us,” Naugatuck coach Jose Sendra said. “Steph Santos scored two goals against Torrington and here, she didn’t have much of an impact. I have a good-bad problem of having so many players that can score, and I have to try to get them in.”
Naugatuck wasted no time finding the net, scoring in the second minute of the match. After a save by Woodland’s Alma Rizvani, the Hawks’ defense could not clear the ball. Instead, Naugy’s Rebekah Mitchell took control and found Charette, who beat Rizvani one-on-one with an easy score to the upper right corner of the goal.
The ball remained in Woodland’s half of the field for almost the entire first half of play; in fact, the Hawks weren’t even able to come within 10 yards of Naugy’s 18-yard box until 15 minutes into the match. Naugatuck took advantage of their almost uninterrupted possession and scored again with 15:49 remaining in the half. Nicole Sambrook rocketed a pass down the middle of the field, finding a narrowly-onside Natalia Carvalho, who crossed a shot to the left of Rizvani for the goal.
As dominant as the Hounds were in the first half, Woodland regrouped and played toe-to-toe with the league’s best in the second. Naugy looked to increase its 2-0 lead in the second minute of the half when Sara Tarsi tried to sneak a kick to Rizvani’s left, but the freshman would have none of it, extending fully to deflect the shot, then pouncing on the ball to end the threat.
Woodland’s Steph Dumond had her squad’s first real scoring chance of the match with 32 minutes remaining, but her one-on-one opportunity with Naugy goalie Jessica Johnson went by the wayside, as Dumond pushed a shot right of the net.
The next three scoring chances were all for the Greyhounds, but Rizvani made three more outstanding stops, hitting the muddy turf to her right twice and standing tall to block a missile-of a shot by Santos to hold the Naugatuck lead at 2-0.
“We made a lot of adjustments on defense in the second half,” Woodland coach Joe Fortier explained. “We were a little unorganized in the first. Once we settled in defensively, we played well. Offensively, we did a better job of putting a little more pressure on [Naugatuck].”
The Hawks’ best chance to score came with less than eight minutes to play, as Raven Palmerie was awarded a direct kick from just right of the 18-yard box, but Johnson deflected the shot away, and with it went Woodland’s chance of a comeback, as the score remained 2-nil the rest of the way.
Though Naugatuck outshot Woodland, 15-3, in the match, Sendra did nothing but praise the Hawks and their resiliency.
“Woodland really has a good team,” Sendra said. “Before we played Torrington, they were the only team that actually played soccer with us. A lot of other teams just bomb the ball downfield. Woodland plays with us, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about them.”