NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck boys soccer team has a penchant for losing a large part of the roster to graduation year in and year out, and yet at the end of the season there the Greyhounds are, playing for a championship.
It may not be that easy this season for Naugatuck, which has won 10 Naugatuck Valley League titles in a span of 15 years and finished runner-up in Class LL last season.
Naugy graduated its entire defensive unit, including goal keeper Aren Seeger, who allowed just six goals in NVL play the last two seasons.
“It’s high school soccer,” said head coach Ryan Kinne, who guided the ‘Hounds to a 36-3-5 mark in his first two years at the helm. “You get guys for four years and then the next wave of players come along. Just as with any program you have to groom the young guys to be ready to take over and know what the expectations are.”
Naugatuck graduated 11 seniors and have five coming back who were on the roster last season. Seniors Thomas Martins and Jake Corbo lead the way, but Naugy is also fortunate to have several younger players who gained experience last year and will be looked on to take on bigger roles this season.
“We had two freshmen start in last year’s state championship game: Chris Akindura and Justin Barth, and that is pretty impressive to have young guys like that who can make that kind of an impact.”
Seniors Alexander Teixeira and Waseem Aljama also played key roles in last year’s run and will be looked on to provide leadership to the younger players.
“We have a few more freshmen that came in this year,” Kinne said. “We had a phenomenal defense the past few years, but it also starts up front with a guy like Chris.”
Kinne continued, “We have to take the group that we have and adapt our system to the personnel that we have. Our job is to put them in the best position to succeed. Offensively, we put 56 goals in the net, so I think we had a good balance both offensively and defensively.”
The Greyhounds will start the defense of their fifth straight NVL title when they open up the season on Thursday at Hamilton Park in Waterbury against Waterbury Career. Naugatuck will host Seymour on Sept. 11 for the home-opener before heading to St. Paul on Sept. 13.