NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys soccer team completed its first undefeated regular season in over a decade by earning a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wilby at Municipal Stadium on Monday.
Adam Branco tallied the only goal with 20 minutes left in the contest for the 16-0 Greyhounds as Fez Pereira recorded his ninth shutout of the season for Naugatuck.
“It’s not only about talent,” Naugatuck head coach Art Nunes said. “It takes a little luck along the way to complete a season undefeated. Going into the season we knew we had a very talented group but no one ever expects to go undefeated. The NVL is a very solid league and this year was no different.”
Naugatuck’s success has been largely due to its defensive unit that is second to none. The Greyhounds have allowed just 11 goals and scored 68, but the biggest factor is Naugy’s massive advantage in shots on goal. In the first 10 games of the season, Naugatuck outshot opponents by a 161-50 advantage and that has shown up in the win-loss column.
The defense has been led this year by senior captains Tyler Saad and Dave DeOliveira along with Ben Reinhard and Osmund Tingstad.
Offensively the Greyhounds have the weapons to get the job done with Ygor Silva, Diogo Cruz and Adam Branco, the team’s leading scorer. To maintain possessions, Naugatuck looks to midfielders Fernando Branco, Dan Silva and Dave Ruela along with Felipe Dutra, Yunis Yilmoz and Mike Campos. Joe Martins, Josh Corbo and Dan Mendes have also been impact players.
Perfection doesn’t happen without some good fortune, too. Nunes pointed to a major nonconference win over Pomperaug earlier this month as an example.
“We got a little lucky against Pomperaug,” Nunes said. “We trailed by a goal with two minutes left and scored two goals to win it and that takes a little bit of luck.”
It’s been 11 years since Naugatuck last ran through the NVL undefeated (15-0-1) in 2002, when the ‘Hounds won the NVL title over Holy Cross and then captured their second state title.
Nunes isn’t looking quite yet toward the Class L state tournament, in which the Greyhounds will be the No. 1 seed. He’s more concerned about the league tournament that begins this weekend.
“There are quite a few teams that have the ability to win this league,” said Nunes, whose team hasn’t allowed a goal in its last four matches. “Torrington, Holy Cross, St. Paul, Seymour and Watertown all have the ability to pull it off. Any team that can generate nine or 10 wins in this league is a legitimate threat.”
He foresees an exciting tournament, which begins Saturday afternoon in Wolcott and Watertown, continues Monday in Watertown and ends Wednesday at Municipal Stadium.
The No. 1 seeded Greyhounds open the tournament Saturday against Wolcott at 3 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in Waterbury.
“This league is about as wide open as it has ever been,” Nunes said. “No matter who is playing who, this should be one of the most contested titles we have seen in quite a few years.”