Season preview: boys soccer

Naugatuck’s Chris Akinduro (9) runs past Seymour’s Evan Pinto (16) to get control of the ball during a match in September 2019 at Seymour High School. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE


2019 results: 18-2-2; won NVL championship and reached quarterfinals of Class LL tournament.

Graduated: goalie David Green, Fred Longo (All-NVL), Bruno Silva, Saul Pujols, Lucas Silva, Matheus Santis, Nelson Lavoura, Jake Murphy, Sam Daniel, Nicholas DaSilva, Qaseem Zia, Eduardo Garcia, Stephen Alziphat, Alex Manasoiu.

Returning seniors: Jay Barth, goalie Jonathon Almeida, Chris Akinduro (All-Iron), Tim Rosa, Rodsir Vaughn, Ryan Galiette, Mateus Filho (All-Iron).

Season opener: Oct. 1 at Wolcott.

Naugatuck will look to reload after losing a lot of experience and talent from last year’s NVL championship team.

The Greyhounds return a solid core of seniors, including All-Iron players Chris Akinduro and Mateus Filho, as well as a good crop of juniors, including All-NVL players Manny Silva and Ahmed Aljamal, and Simon Diaz, Ryan Kennelly and Chad Mahler.

The Greyhounds are preparing for what will be a shortened season without a traditional postseason, but that hasn’t diminished any of the excitement for a new year.

“I never seen a more excited bunch of kids just so happy to be back together and out on the field playing,” Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne said.

“I hope there can be some kind of postseason, even if it’s just within the league,” Kinne added. “Hopefully they can figure it all out and find some way to have some kind of end-of-season tournament. There is nothing quite like a crisp fall night under the lights playing a meaningful game. That’s the way soccer was intended to be played.”

Woodland’s Sean Swanson (6) slides as he tries to knock the ball away from Northwestern’s William Wysocki (1) during second round action of the Class M tournament in November 2019 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE


2019 results: 18-4; NVL Copper Division champion; reached NVL championship game and Class M quarterfinals.

Graduated: Cole Barrows, Ethan Carlone, Jason Claiborn, Dominik Frackiewicz, George Hughes, Ryan Lamb, Dante Polletta, Devon Polletta, Matthew Stach, Alex Stein.

Seniors: Andi Krivca, Daniel Sargent, Jack Schwarz, Nathaniel Smith.

Season opener: Oct. 1 vs. Derby.

Despite graduating a class of 10 seniors that put together arguably the best two-year stretch in Woodland boys soccer history, the Hawks feel confident in their returning players’ ability to keep up the program’s momentum.

“We always have a strong program and I see more of that this year,” coach Kenan Collins said. “There’s always room for improvement. I don’t really know how the season’s going to unfold.”

That uncertainty stems in part from the graduation of the majority of the Hawks’ starting lineup but also from the fact that full-team practices and scrimmages weren’t allowed to start until Sept. 21. Collins praised his team’s work ethic and responsibility during the past few months’ worth of conditioning.

“To the boys’ credit, they’ve been making the best of a unique situation,” Collins said. “You can see some of the frustration finally disappeared (Sept. 21) when we were allowed to scrimmage, but even before that they approached everything with a smile and followed all the protocols. They had all this pent-up energy, so it was like finally getting back to soccer as normal.”

While Christian Hotchkiss will miss the season due to a knee injury he suffered over the summer, the Hawks have other weapons ready to contribute. Nathaniel Smith will bring what Collins called “great vision and leadership” to the center-mid spot, while fellow senior Andi Krivca is “very technical and really good on the ball.”

Alex Farr scored double-digit goals last season as a freshman, “so we’re looking for more out of him, and he’s definitely gotten better,” Collins said. Sean Swanson has “really locked down” the center-back position, and the coach also praised left-back Sean Hussey.

“He’s fantastic at defending but he’s also really good moving forward, so he gives us options,” Collins said. “He’s turning into a natural leader.”