There weren’t a whole lot of goals scored in the first two rounds of the NVL boys soccer tournament, and that wasn’t a problem for a Naugatuck team that thrives on defense.
No. 1 Naugatuck beat Torrington, 1-0, in the quarterfinals on Saturday before outlasting No. 5 Ansonia, 1-0 (3-1 PK), in the semifinals on Tuesday.
The Greyhounds will play No. 2 Watertown in the NVL final on Thursday at Seymour High School at approximately 7:30 p.m. Naugatuck and Watertown tied, 0-0, in the regular-season finale.
“We have scored about five goals in our last five games,” Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne said. “But for the most part we have had some great performances as a team. We played a great game against Watertown. Hopefully when it rains it pours, and when we do score it will open the floodgates. Looking forward to the finals and putting some balls into the back of the net.”
Naugatuck was well aware of Ansonia’s defense — the two sides played to a 0-0 tie earlier in the season. It came as no surprise to anyone as the clock wound down in regulation and there were two zeros on the scoreboard.
The teams battled on through two scoreless ten minute overtime sessions. Naugatuck had multiple opportunities in what appeared to be open net situations in front of the Ansonia goal with Felipe Pereira and Sam Rego at the post, but the Chargers managed to knock it out of harm’s way each time.
The game went to penalty kicks to decide who would go on to play for the NVL title. Ansonia took the first shot that hit the post. Naugatuck goalie Aren Seeger then showed why he is the best keeper in the league, batting away two point blank shots.
The Greyhounds wound up and drilled three straight to the back of the net with Vinny Knupp, who scored the lone goal in the first-round win over Torrington, Tom Martins and Matt Carroll pounding away shots that never had a chance of being stopped.
When Seeger batted away his final save the Naugatuck sidelines erupted.
“I tried to force them to go one way and I came up with some big stops,” Seeger said. “We dominated the whole game we just couldn’t finish. It’s such a great feeling, and now we get a chance to go for our fifth title in a row.”
Ansonia reached the semifinals after beating No. 4 Woodland, 1-0, on Saturday.
Ansonia took an early lead on a first half goal from Allan Fernandez. The Hawks had their chances after falling behind, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Andrew Spofford made four saves in goal for the Hawks.
“We dominated play after they took the lead but we just couldn’t finish our opportunities,” Woodland head coach Tony Moutinho said. “Ansonia scored on a breakaway ten minutes in, and we figured we had plenty of time to respond. But their goalie Jefferson Vargas (nine saves) made some great stops.”
State tournament play begins Saturday with qualifying rounds. Pairings will be announced on Friday.