Season preview: girls soccer

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Naugatuck’s Aalyiah Henry (4) and Wolcott’s Morgan Matyoka (19) battle for the ball during a NVL soccer tournament game in November 2019 in Wolcott. –REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN ARCHIVE

Naugatuck

2019 results: 10-6-3; reached NVL quarterfinals and second round of Class L tournament.

Graduated: goalie Sydney O’Donnell, Paige Cruz (All-NVL), Kylie Neretich, Alissa McNeil, Liz Kross.

Seniors: Kylie O’Donnell, Aalyiah Henry, Noelle Jacobi, Emma Sonski, Angelina Oliveira, Tori Lawson.

Season opener: Oct. 1 vs. Seymour.

The Greyhounds made a late-season push last year to reach the NVL and state tournaments.

Although they were upended early in both tournaments, the team returns a solid core of players after losing only five seniors to graduation and is confident about this season.

Along with six returning seniors, the Greyhounds boast a slew of talented juniors and sophomores, including goalie Saige Winslow and All-Iron player Allison Murphy.

The Greyhounds have high hopes heading into the season, even if there won’t be a traditional postseason to shoot for because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“I haven’t had to do much as far as motivating them,” head coach Lisa Mariano said. “They understand what is at stake and the season can be taken away at any time. They are just excited to be back out on the field and are hoping that a season can happen.”

“I’m a very competitive person and I want to win,” Mariano added. “I know our girls are very competitive and they want to win also. But in spite of what has happened with the pandemic, at the end of the day, it’s still just a game and they are just happy to have the opportunity to go out there and play again.”

Woodland’s Aries Bell (7) pushes the ball up the field between Watertown’s Kristina Kyle (24) and Morgan Dodge (11) during a game in October 2019 at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls. –FILE PHOTO

Woodland

2019 results: 11-5-3; reached NVL quarterfinals and second round of Class M tournament.

Graduated: Olivia Kotsaftis, Madison Lisowski, Jillian O’Neil, Jillian Barbarito, Molly Hussey.

Seniors: Erica Poehailos, Aries Bell, Natalie Miranda, Abby Colt, Magdalena Lewicki, Holly Plasky, Ava DeLucia.

Season opener: Oct. 1 at Derby.

The Hawks posted a solid record in the regular season last year, but were hoping to go a little deeper in the postseason.

Woodland fell in the NVL quarterfinals. The Hawks earned a win in the first round of the Class M tournament before their season ended in the second round.

Graduation losses were held to a minimum and Woodland returns a solid core of players. Led by eight seniors, the Hawks also return juniors Sara Alessio, Jenna Mierek, Isabela Mejias, Emily Ruhl and Katy Moore.

The pandemic, though, has altered the goals for the team — and many others — this year.

“The goal for us right now is to be able to play a full schedule without any incidence where they stop us from playing,” Woodland head coach Cait Witham said. “Obviously, keeping the kids safe and healthy is the number one priority while giving them an opportunity to play.”

“It’s unlike any season we have prepared for,” she added. “Usually you are pushing them to get the most out of your team, but we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. It’s hard to get upset with them because everything is an unknown right now. Just being able to give them a season is all the success that we can hope for.”