NAUGATUCK – In the second to last game before the NVL tournament, the Naugatuck Girls Varsity soccer team shut out Ansonia 6-0 this past Monday night during Naugatuck’s Senior Night celebration, improving to 11-2-1.
Coach Jose Sendra’s determination, even as the season moves toward its close, is at once straightforward and clear.
“What I told them before the game was to possess the ball, to have some meaningful possession of the ball and then try to build up the attack,” Jose Sendra. “Go at them and good things would happen.”
In many respects, the Greyhounds have succeeded in doing just that all season.
“That’s kind of been our theme the past few games getting ready for states and for the NVL tournament,” Sendra said. “To not necessarily worry about scoring a lot but getting into the habit of playing together, getting forward with numbers, and then making goals happen.”
Perhaps one benefit of this philosophy is that as the primary focus shifts away from goals and particular players as prime scorers, it shifts toward defense and diversifies the players who get the ball and score the goals. With regards to the former, Naugatuck’s back four held Ansonia to only one shot on their goal, occurring with only ten minutes left in the game.
On the other hand, Naugatuck had 15 shots on goal (26 shots total) while each of Naugatuck’s six goals were all scored by different players. The first half saw goals by Cristina Sendra, Melissa Labonte, and Kathryn Bottinick–the last being a long shot just over the outstretched fingertips of the airborn Ansonia goalie–while the second half saw goals by Nicole Sambrook, Stephanie Santos, and Lauren Piroscafo. Santos would also lead the team in assists, claiming three of the four on the night for the Greyhounds.
Ansonia moves on to face Holy Cross this Wednesday, a game that will prove crucial to Ansonia considering a loss would mean exemption from the NVL tournament. With only one game left, Naugatuck looks forward to playing Derby on Wednesday, a team that seems to have been struggling all season. Sendra was clear, though, that this was not to deter the girls from bringing their best game while also hinting a bit toward the future and NVL’s.
“Obviously you want to be considerate of every opponent and no games over until it’s over,” Sendra said. “We’re going to go in there and stick to the plan, make sure the game is won. In NVL’s we’re probably looking at Seymour first round and if we get through them, luckily, we might play Torrington in the second round and their the only team that’s beaten us this season in our conference. So obviously we have to be very concerned about that.”
At the same time, Sendra is quick to point out what is truly significant if the team wishes to be as successful in this year’s NVL’s as they were the previous season.
“It’s not looking at who we’re playing or what the score is, so much as fine tuning our style of play,” Sendra said.