WATERBURY — No. 1 Naugatuck and No. 2 Woodland will meet on the pitch Thursday night with a Naugatuck Valley League championship on the line.
The Greyhounds got two goals from Chris Akinduro, one in each half, and a strong performance from keeper David Green (12 saves) in a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Watertown Tuesday at Municipal Stadium in the semifinals.
Woodland rolled into the championship game for the second straight year with a 3-0 conquest of No. 3 Holy Cross.
Naugatuck and Woodland will play in the final on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Municipal Stadium.
After Watertown missed on numerous chances in the first half, Akinduro slammed a loose ball off the bottom of the crossbar into the goal for a 1-0 Naugatuck lead with 11:06 left on the clock. In the second half, Akinduro struck from over 25 yards out to put the Greyhounds ahead 2-0 with 22:10 to play.
“It was beautiful,” Green said about Akinduro’s second goal. “Even that first shot, he just killed the ball and it went in.”
“That was a fantastic finish by Chris,” Naugatuck coach Ryan Kinne said. “It’s a finish he’s been working on for a while, curling that one in the far post. We discussed at halftime not resting with a 1-0 lead. We weren’t going to sit back and absorb pressure. We were just going to go out, try to get them on their front foot again, put the ball down and play, and I thought we did that. We created some good chances, and Chris had a fantastic finish on that goal.”
The Indians generated some chances, but it was the top seed that controlled play.
“That’s a good team over there,” Kinne said. “Watertown’s got some talented guys.”
When the Indians did get in close, Green was there to stop the ball from going in.
“Being a goalkeeper, you have to just make sure that you’re the last line of defense, and you’re always holding onto that,” Green said.
When the Hawks played Holy Cross in the regular season, they spotted the Crusaders two goals, then had to roar back for a victory. In Tuesday night’s semifinal, Woodland had the upper foot from the opening boot.
“I had to kindly remind them before tonight’s game that Holy Cross had dominated them, not just the two goals but even past that. It was a very uncomfortable 20 minutes when we played them at home,” said first-year Woodland head coach Kenan Collins. “Saying you’re up for the game is one thing. Showing you’re up is another. Actions speak louder than words.”
Sean Hussey showed he was revved up by rocketing in a shot from 40 yards out in the ninth minute for a 1-0 Woodland lead.
“The ball got passed back to me to the 40-yard line. I just hit a shot,” Hussey said. “I have (scored from that far out before), but not at Woodland.”
Cole Barrows put Woodland up 2-0 with his goal in the 21st minute. Alex Farr added an insurance score with just under 24 minutes to play.
“We kind of took (Holy Cross) for granted (two weeks ago). We started really, really weak. After that, we kind of picked ourselves up and got back into our regular shape,” Barrows said. “Today, we started with that same fire, and starting with that fire is what gave us the advantage.”
Woodland keeper Ryan Lamb made five saves.