NAUGATUCK — Winning the NVL boys soccer championship is far from becoming old hat for the Greyhounds, they have won four straight and six in the last nine years, but they went into the postseason feeling like they had bigger fish to fry.
“We wanted to establish ourselves as a team that could compete for a state title,” first-year head coach Ryan Kinne said. “Winning the NVL title took care of one of our goals but we wanted to go deeper in the states than we have in the past few years.”
Naugatuck’s chase of a state title came to an end Nov. 10 in a 1-0 loss to No. 16 Fairfield Prep in the second round of the Class LL state tournament.
Naugatuck (17-1-3) entered the tournament as the number one seed behind a stout defense that gave up only three goals heading into match with Fairfield Prep (12-3-4).
Fairfield Prep cracked the defense 15 minutes into the game when Biagio Paoletta headed the ball into the goal off a corner from Julito Ojea Quintana.
Naugatuck had a couple of decent chances to answer and put more pressure on the goal in the second half, but Fairfield Prep goalkeeper Dan Szabo, who has 10 shutouts on the season, made five saves to hold off the ‘Hounds.
“I feel bad for the kids the way the season ended,” Kinne said. “It doesn’t diminish everything that we accomplished. It’s unfortunate that we gave up only four goals on the season and we are not moving on.”
Offense has been the Greyhounds’ biggest shortcoming in the state tournament, having scored eight goals in eight games over the past five seasons. The offense didn’t have a go-to scorer this season, but had enough integral parts to form an attack that outscored the opposition by a 51-3 margin heading into the Class LL tourney.
As the Greyhounds look to next year, they will be losing 12 seniors to graduation, including Devon Curtis, who earned All-NVL honors, and Gabriel Carrelo, who was named to the All-Iron team.
“We lose a great deal of experience with 12 seniors but we have a solid junior class coming back, including defender Yan Silva with Aren Seeger and Zach Alves in the net.”
Silva made the All-NVL team and Seeger earned All-Iron status. Naugatuck will also look to some younger players, including sophomore Tommy Martins who was named to the All-Iron team.
“We have a talented freshman class coming in and the development of some of the younger guys should allow us to just reload and go out there with the same goals that we came into the season with,” Kinne said.