Naugy hangs tough with Cross

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Naugatuck's Stefanie Flores, left, and Holy Cross' Caitlin Villano hustle after a loose ball Oct. 11 at Municipal Stadium. Cross topped Naugy 4-1. –RA ARCHIVE
Naugatuck’s Stefanie Flores, left, and Holy Cross’ Caitlin Villano hustle after a loose ball Oct. 11 at Municipal Stadium. Cross topped Naugy 4-1. –RA ARCHIVE

WATERBURY — Naugatuck put undefeated Holy Cross on notice last Saturday after scoring the first goal in an NVL girls soccer showdown at Municipal Stadium.

The Crusaders (12-0-1) managed a goal in the waning seconds of the first half to take the lead and continued to go to their bench for fresh legs in the second half as Naugatuck couldn’t keep up in a tough 4-1 loss.

“We were real pleased with how we started the game getting the lead,” Naugatuck head coach Sean Dunn said. “We might have become a little comfortable with the lead but Holy Cross really put a lot of pressure on us after that.”

Dunn said the late first half goal swung the momentum in favor of the Crusaders.

Holy Cross’ Taylor Gilmore sent in a corner kick that was touched by several players before Kiley Harnish got a header on it sending it to the back of the net for a 2-1 advantage with 36 seconds remaining in the half.

The goal gave Holy Cross all the momentum they would need and took a little steam out of the Greyhounds’ attack.

“They got a goal just before the end of the half and that was a big momentum shift for them,” he said. “We did come out with a few opportunities early in the second half, but every shot was just off the mark.”

The Greyhounds winners of six of their last eight games proved early on that they are a lot stronger than their 6-7 record indicates.

Sandra Dinis stepped from behind a defender to intercept a ball trying to be cleared and buried it to the back of the net at the 34:28 mark to put the ‘Hounds on top 1-0.

Holy Cross went on the attack, but ran into a tough-as-nails Stefanie Flores and the imposing presence of Jasmine Grey as the Naugy defense went into action. Leigha Molligi and Bridget Rosikiewicz stepped up to close off the outside lanes.

Sophie Boucher (seven saves) knocked down a shot in the box, but a minute later the Crusaders were back to try and capitalize on their second chance. Harnish used a burst of speed to separate herself from a pair of Naugy players just outside the box. When Boucher came out to defend, the Holy Cross freshman sent a blast to the far post that settled into the net to tie the game at 1-1 at 25:05 left in the first half.

Nicole Crowley came on at 23:45 when Dinis was shaken up on a play over the middle. Taylor Campos and Suzana Amaral were winning the battle at midfield for Naugatuck giving Hannah Lauer and Kyla Magalhaes the opportunity to put pressure on Holy Cross goalkeeper Katherine Flaherty. A couple of over anxious shots found their way over the top of the Crusaders’ goal with time running out in the half.

Makayla Teixeira and Jamie Dwy came on in the second half to try and put a spark in the Greyhounds. Naugatuck had several opportunities early on in the second half, but the shots were either wide of the post or over the top of the goal.

Holy Cross kept going to the bench and it was only a matter of time before they created enough separation and added insurance goals to put the game away.

With 14:23 to play Jordan Gilmore out raced a pair of Naugy players coming around the corner of the box and planted one to the far post to open up a 3-1 advantage. At 8:08 left Megan Villano entered the box with several ‘Hounds trailing the play and ripped a shot out of the reach of a diving Boucher to make it a 4-1 deficit.

Latisha Brockington, Kassie Colon and Sarah Hanks come on along with Lily Detuzzi and Andrea Mercer to try and jump start the Greyhounds down the stretch but the damage was done.

“We just seem to have trouble with the long balls getting behind us and it’s something that we have been working to get better all season,” Dunn said. “Our defense for the most part has been solid and Boucher has done a great job for us in the net.”

With a week to go in the season, the Greyhounds are looking to finish strong heading into the NVL tournament.

“We have to come back with a tough game against Weston,” Dunn said. “We have a couple of league games that we need to finish strong against Wolcott, Ansonia and Sacred Heart and be ready for the tournament play.”

Naugatuck fell to Weston 4-1 Wednesday in an out-of-conference match. Taylor Campos scored for the Greyhounds off a corner kick and Sophie Boucher made 14 saves.

The Greyhounds will host Wolcott Friday and Ansonia on Monday for 6 p.m. starts. Naugy will conclude the regular season on the road Oct. 22 versus Sacred Heart at Municipal Stadium for a 3:45 p.m. start.