Season ends in shootout


NAUGATUCK — The two-time defending Naugatuck Valley League boys soccer champion Greyhounds saw their state playoff run end short for the second year in a row.

No. 2 Naugatuck (17-1-2) was stunned by No. 18 South Windsor (10-6-1) 2-1 Nov. 5 in the second round of the Class L tournament at Naugatuck High School. South Windsor pulled the upset in heartbreaking fashion, beating Naugy in a penalty kick shootout 3-2.

“It just goes to show you that every team that enters this tournament is worthy of winning it all,” Naugatuck head coach Art Nunes said. “It was a tough physical battle that saw 11 yellow cards and each team scored on a penalty kick in regulation.”

South Windsor’s Nick Heckt and Naugatuck’s Felipe Dutra both scored on penalty kicks for the only goals in regulation. The teams battled through two overtime sessions still tied at 1-1.

“It came down to a shoot out and they managed one more kick than we did and that was the deciding factor,” Nunes said. “You never want it to come down to that but that is the tradition of the game.

“You love it when you win those games and move on and hate it when you are on the losing end. You try and simulate that situation in practice but these are 16-, 17-year-old kids and the whole season is riding on it. That is an awful lot of pressure at that age and every team knows that it can come down to that.”

Nunes said the Greyhounds had a few chances in regulation, but couldn’t finish it off.

“Enzo Pereira did a great job making 10 saves and in the shootout phase we went with Rabbi Ahmed,” Nunes added.

Naugatuck has been to the quarterfinals three times in the last 10 years and has only gone one-and-out just twice since winning the Class LL state championship in 2002. The Greyhounds will lose some prominent players from this year’s squad, but Nunes believes he has some adequate replacements waiting in the wings to make another run next season.

The ‘Hounds will graduate top defender Tyler Saad along with goalkeeper Pereira and defender Abdul Gadoush. The speed of the attack will need to be replaced with Dan Martins and Dan Silva graduating. Midfielders Joe Martins, Ygor Silva and Diogo Cruz will create a hole in the lineup along with forwards Josh Aviles and Yunis Yilmoz.

Seniors Dan Mendes, Mauricio DaSilva and Emillano Airala along with Alex Triscritti, Josh Monte and Matteo Bushi will add to the holes that need to be filled next season.

“We are losing a couple of key players on defense,” Nunes said. “But it’s at midfield where we will need players to step up as we are losing five of our six top players.”

Dutra, Candido Carrelo and Curtis Devon will be key players on defense along with returning goalie Ahmed. Juniors Mike Campos, Adam Antunes, Andrew Carrol and Marco Mendes will team up with Alex Ribeiro and Tim Maertens to give the ‘Hounds some experience going into next season. Yan Silva and Dan Ruela could provide the speed to balance out a team that has the tools to make another run at the postseason.