By this time, most of us have finished opening our gifts (save for the couple from relatives you have yet to see) but I’ve got one more present that you’ve already started to unwrap—the best of the best from Woodland and Naugatuck sports in 2010.
It was an historic year for both the Hawks and the Hounds as the two area schools won a number of Naugatuck Valley League championships and featured several impressive athletes who racked up plenty of accolades.
So, without further ado, I bring you the best of the year that was 2010.
10. Hawks and Hounds battle for first NVL girls’ tennis team title
For the first time, the NVL championship was determined in a team tournament and it was no surprise that the top two teams in the league—Woodland and Naugatuck—slugged it out in the tournament championship.
The Hawks avenged their only defeat of the regular season by beating the Hounds, 5-2, in the tournament final on May 24, giving the Black and Gold its second league title in three years. Woodland finished 19-2 and was led by Steph Badale and Megan Wester while Naugy finished 18-4 thanks to Meghan Toth and Sarah Yacavone.
9. Woodland boys basketball make state tourney for second time
Coach Tom Hunt increased the Hawks’ win total for the second straight year and led the Black and Gold to its first state tournament berth since 2005 thanks to an 8-12 regular season mark.
Woodland clinched the berth with a 60-49 win over Seymour in its final chance on Feb. 23. Bryan Spickle paced the Hawks with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Shaine Thompson added 13 points to put Woodland in the playoffs for the second time in school history.
8. Naugatuck soccer can’t sweep NVL titles again
It was a familiar sight at Municipal Stadium for the NVL soccer championships on Nov. 3—both the Naugatuck boys and girls were playing for league titles. In fact, the Hounds were vying to win both soccer titles for the second year in a row.
But Watertown stood in their way and spoiled the borough’s party. The Indians won the girls’ title with a 2-1 victory before their male counterparts prevented Naugy from winning its fifth straight crown with a 2-1 win. Still, Tiago Martins and Steph Santos helped keep the Hounds dominant in Valley soccer.
7. Hawks win first-ever boys soccer championship
Most of Woodland’s fall sports teams have been very successful in the school’s short history but heading into 2010, the boys’ soccer team had yet to enjoy such success. That all changed this past fall.
Led by Eric Dietz, Tyler Carlos, and Christian Pinho, the Hawks posted their best record ever, going 12-4 in the regular season and 13-6 overall to capture their first Brass Division championship, first trip to the NVL tournament semifinals, and first home state tournament game.
6. Jessica Webber joins Naugy’s 1,000-point club
Naugatuck’s 1,000-point club opened its doors to another member last winter when Jessica Webber became the latest Greyhound to reach the milestone. OK, she actually scored her 1,000th point in a loss at Holy Cross on Dec. 21, 2009, but she added to her total throughout 2010.
Webber’s achievement only added to the success she earned throughout her career, which included several all-NVL honors and leading her team to several upset victories. Webber is the ninth player in Naugy girls’ hoops history to reach the 1,000-point mark.
5. Naugy boys swimming wins thriller over Sacred Heart
Normally dual meets in swimming don’t earn much recognition, but the heated battle between Naugatuck and Sacred Heart on Jan. 29 was just that important. In a battle of the lone undefeated NVL teams, the Hounds squeaked out a 95-91 win over the Hearts at Kennedy.
Naugy finished first and third in the 400-yard freestyle relay in the final event of the night to clinch the victory. After the meet, tensions were high and the teams had to be separated during a verbal confrontation on the deck. The Hounds went on to win their fourth straight NVL title in March.
4. Area track stars propel teams to championships
Naugatuck and Woodland owned the track, both indoor and outdoor, in 2010, as the Hounds and Hawks combined to win four NVL titles in as many tries. The Woodland boys won the NVL indoor title while sharing the outdoor crown with Seymour while the Naugatuck girls swept both the NVL indoor and outdoor titles.
There were more outstanding performances than can easily be listed here, but some of the standouts included Naugatuck’s Rosa Moriello, Tori Pisco, Amanze Williams, and Donato Piroscafo. Woodland showcased Brandon Fowler, Dan Park, Tyler Murphy, and Alyssa Marti.
3. Woodland football upsets Naugy, but loses Copper title
Naugatuck entered its matchup with Woodland on Nov. 5 a perfect 7-0 and just needed to beat the Hawks to clinch the NVL Copper Division title and earn a chance to play Ansonia for the NVL championship. Woodland had other ideas.
The Hawks held the Greyhounds to a season-low six points and Jack DeBiase had one of the best games of his career, including a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown, to pull a 25-6 upset over Naugy, making them the Copper champs—we thought.
We later found out that Woodland had to beat Sacred Heart or Naugy had to lose to Holy Cross the following week to actually clinch the title. Wouldn’t you know it, the Hearts upset the Hawks and the Hounds held off the Crusaders to give Naugy its first-ever Copper crown.
2. Katie Alfiere’s appendix no match for NVL softball competition
Perhaps no team was as dominant in 2010 as the Woodland softball squad, which featured the league’s top player, Katie Alfiere. The fireballer led the Hawks to a perfect, 15-0 start and made her team the favorite to win the school’s first softball championship.
But, before Alfiere could earn her 16th win, she had to undergo an emergency appendectomy, which sidelined her for the last five regular season games, costing Woodland a chance at a perfect season.
Somehow, Alfiere came back to pitch her team to three wins in four days in the NVL tournament to win the title, then earned two more wins in the state tournament before falling at Griswold on June 4. Still, the display of toughness by Alfiere is the stuff of legend.
1. Greyhounds finally beat Ansonia, earn first NVL crown in a decade
Over and over, the story for Naugatuck on Thanksgiving was the same since 2001—losing to Ansonia to end the season. But this year, it was bound to be different for the best team the borough has seen in nearly a decade.
The Hounds took advantage of their second chance at the NVL championship and put on one of the most impressive performances of the year, routing Ansonia, 36-20, for their first NVL title since 2001 and first win over the Chargers in Ansonia since 1986.
Naugy was led by quarterback Erich Broadrick’s 300-plus-yard passing day and defensive lineman Aaron Echevarria’s five sacks. The Hounds held Montrell Dobbs to under 150 yards for the first time all season and earned a playoff bid for the first time since 2001.