BY KYLE BRENNAN
The fall high school sports season got underway Sept. 8, and over the next two months, Woodland and Naugatuck will compete for Naugatuck Valley League championships before turning their attention to the state postseason.
Here are some of the most notable contests on the fall regular-season schedule.
Naugatuck cross country at Woodland (Sept. 27): Two teams that are regular challengers for the NVL championships will square off in Beacon Falls as part of a four-team meet that also includes Holy Cross and Wilby. Both teams lost plenty of talent, including Woodland’s two NVL champs, but this third-week meet should reveal much about this year’s contenders.
Naugatuck boys soccer at Woodland (Oct. 3): These two fierce rivals only meet once a year on the pitch, and this year’s meeting comes smack-dab in the middle of the regular season on the thick grass at Woodland. Both teams reached the league semifinals last year and both teams return their leading scorers, too. Don’t be surprised if this is a preview of an NVL tournament matchup.
Naugatuck girls swimming at Woodland (Oct. 7): The Hawks were untouchable in the NVL last year and they’ve clearly been the top team in the league over the past five years. They return plenty of championship-caliber talent this year, too, and enter the season as the favorite to repeat. Naugy, last year’s runner-up, might have something to say about that, though.
Naugatuck girls soccer at Woodland (Oct. 21): As division rivals, this will be the second meeting of the season for these squads — the first is an Oct. 3 contest in the borough. But this one will come in the final week of the regular season, and it’ll surely have postseason implications. The Hawks enter the year as defending NVL champs, but the ‘Hounds return a loaded group and will challenge for the title.
Naugatuck football at Woodland (Nov. 11): The George Pinho Trophy will be at stake on Veterans’ Day as the Hawks try to wrest back the trophy for the first time since 2015. While Naugy’s offense is sure to be explosive, Woodland has a chance to surprise opponents with a solid second-year starting quarterback in Darren Gasparri. This game will not only be for the prized trophy, but it will likely carry NVL championship and state playoffs weight, too.
Woodland football at Seymour (Nov. 23): The Thanksgiving eve rivalry typically sends at least one of the combatants to the state playoffs, and both teams could be in the conversation when the series heads back to Seymour. Woodland will seek revenge for a 22-15 loss last year, which was caused partially by the Hawks’ four turnovers.
Naugatuck football vs. Ansonia (Nov. 24): Last year’s Thanksgiving game felt a lot like it might have started a momentum shift in the rivalry that the Chargers have dominated since the mid-1970s. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the league title were on the line again at Veterans’ Field, but the Greyhounds haven’t beaten Ansonia in Naugatuck since 2001. A second straight win over the Chargers would mark the first time Naugy’s done that since 1985-86.
BY KYLE BRENNAN