NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck sports certainly had an impressive fall in 2014. The football team went 9-2 and made a state semifinal appearance. The volleyball team went 14-6 and secured the No. 4 seed in the NVL tournament. The boys soccer team won its second straight NVL title.
Perhaps the most overlooked sport during this impressive season was cross country. The boys and girls teams went a combined 22-4 last season.
The boys cross country team is coming off an undefeated season and an NVL title. The Greyhounds had five players finish in the top 20 at the NVL championship last year. However, Naugy lost two of those players to graduation: Dan Schumacher and Brody Hale.
Head coach Bill Hanley said Schumacher and Hale not only produced good times, but were great leaders, as well.
“Dan Schumacher and Brody Hale brought talent and maturity to the boys’ team,” Hanley said. “Both were student-athletes in the best sense of the words.”
The ‘Hounds do return three of those players — Graden Beasley, Mark Zamani and Brandon Thomas — who performed well in the championship meet.
Beasley is only a junior and received All-NVL honors in both of his first two seasons. Zamani is also coming off an All-NVL 2014 season.
Other key returning boys include seniors Mike Zamani, Scott Koska, Lawrence Andrade; juniors Dave Kearns, Luis Garces, Joe Dempsey, Matt Wahl, James Clark, Justin Lastra, Jared Aponte; sophomores Brian Goggin, Ross Via, Elliot Via; and freshman Ryan Yasevac.
Hanley said he is in the search of a third, fourth and fifth runner to back up Mark Zamani and Beasley. He said that the rest of the team needs to emulate their commitment and aggressiveness if they are going to run their way to another league title.
“Younger teammates would do well to emulate their serious approach to training and their aggressive approach to racing,” Hanley said.
The girls also came out of last season towards the top of the league, placing fifth at the NVL meet. The Greyhounds only lost one player from that team, Harmony Sturdivant.
That means they return many key players, including seniors Courtney Morin, Liz Trumbley, Jill Ortz; juniors Lauren Stankiewicz, Steffanie Dube; and sophomore Brianna Lennon.
Morin and Trumbley are the captains, and Hanley expects them to guide the team in a very positive direction. However, the fifth year coach is very excited to see how the whole team performs when the season starts.
“This year’s team is a very talented group,” Hanley said. “All the girls seem to have put in the work over the summer. I’m excited to see how their times drop throughout the season.”
The Greyhounds are scheduled to open the season Sept. 15 at 3:45 p.m. versus Crosby, Ansonia and Holy Cross at Hop Brook Park in Middlebury.