Soccer showdown


Naugy gearing up for wide open NVL tournament

NAUGATUCK — When Naugatuck boys soccer coach Art Nunes looked around the league at the start of the season he knew that a battle was on the horizon.

Nunes knows what he’s talking about. He has gone bare lipped 12 times in November as a dozen of his teams have had the privilege of shaving off his sturdy mustache after winning a NVL title.

Naugatuck has played for the league title 14 times in the last 17 seasons. But this year’s run may be a little bit more crowded with a bevy of competitive teams looking to knock the defending champion Greyhounds off.

“This has been a very challenging season,” Nunes said. “And that is a good thing. It has made our team that much stronger with the competition we have faced. There are no easy games — every team poses a threat regardless of their record.

“We had all we could do to get by Holy Cross and Wolcott a team that’s not even in the mix gave us a run for our money. I think it will come down to defense and what ever goalkeeper is on his game.”

Naugatuck (14-0-2) has been tested more than a few times this season salvaging ties with Seymour and Torrington. The ‘Hounds also had to battle to get past Holy Cross 2-1 and escaped with 2-0 wins over Torrington, St. Paul and Oxford. There were struggles with Crosby, Watertown and Pomperaug that resulted in nail-biting 3-1 wins.

Naugatuck took care of business on Monday earning a 3-0 win over Ansonia. Enzo Pereira and Rabbi Ahmed combined for six saves in goal to record the sixth shutout of the season for the ‘Hounds.

Dan Martins, Dan Silva and Josh Aviles scored the goals for Naugatuck with Candido Carrelo lending two assists and Mike Campos adding an assist to pace the offense.

The Greyhounds will have to be on their game as there will be more than a few teams heading to Municipal Stadium this weekend with high hopes for a title.

“Torrington has done an excellent job especially after losing seven seniors from last year,” Nunes said. “Joe (Perrucci) really has his team pumped up in Seymour. They have a solid class of juniors and seniors and they play with a lot of heart and emotion. That is a big part of postseason play the emotional side of it and neither of these teams are going to be easy to get by.”

The key for the Greyhounds will be their defense led by Tyler Saad and anchored by the efforts of Felipe Dutra, Abdul Gadoush and Devon Curtis. In between the pipes Naugatuck will have Pereira, a three-year veteran, to go along with Ahmed.

Naugatuck has outscored the opposition 52-10 in the regular season. Several players have shown the ability to find the back of the net. Dan Martins, Josh Aviles, Ygor Silva and Joe Martins are all threats on the offensive side of the ball.

The Greyhounds play a possession style of game and that fits right into the strengths of Dan Silva, Diogo Cruz and Carrelo. Naugatuck is seldom outmanned especially over the middle where Campos, Yunis Yilmoz and Yan Silva have made their presence felt.

Naugy closed out the season with a 6-0 win over Sacred Heart on Wednesday. Matt Bushi scored three times for host Naugy. Josh Aviles, Joe Martins, and Dan Silva also scored. Pereira and Ahmed combined to make three saves.

The NVL tournament is scheduled to begin Saturday. The Greyhounds are the No. 1 seed and are scheduled to face No. 8 Crosby at 6 p.m. at Naugatuck High School.

Nunes said the ‘Hounds are ready to go for a tournament he foresees being wide open.

“We have a couple of nicks and bruises coming into this tournament but for the most part we are ready to go. We need to stay focused and play our game. Finishing the last third of the game will be crucial. It’s really the most wide open tournament that we’ve had in a few years.”