NAUGATUCK — When teams win on a consistent basis like the Naugatuck boys soccer team has — including five straight Naugatuck Valley League championships — they become the hunted and face their opponents’ best efforts each game.
Naugatuck faced this fact over a three-game stretch last week that saw the Greyhounds win one, endure a draw, and end up on the losing side of another game to bring their record to 3-1-1 on the season.
“It’s been a tough week, no doubt,” said Naugatuck head coach Ryan Kinne following a three-game stretch in which the Greyhounds beat Torrington, 3-2, on Sept. 18, tied Woodland, 1-1, on Sept. 20, and lost to Watertown, 3-1, on Sept. 22.
Naugatuck faced a stern battle against Torrington. Chris Akinduro, Freddie Longo and Nelson Lavoura scored for the ‘Hounds. Jay Barth, Alex Teixeira and Alex Manasoiu lent the assists.
Things got even closer when Naugy hosted neighboring rival Woodland, and the battle ended in a draw.
Certainly not what the Greyhounds had hoped for, but Woodland (4-0-2) is a legitimate contender in the NVL. Tommy Martins scored the lone Naugy goal on an assist from Longo. David Green made two saves in the net.
“I expected that kind of battle with Woodland,” Kinne said. “They’ve had some good results this season and they are always a tough opponent. I’m not sure some of our younger guys understand that when teams play us they are going to be at their best.”
Sometimes lessons are learned when teams end up on the losing end, and the Greyhounds got a lesson in adversity versus Watertown.
The game marked the first time that Watertown beat Naugy in eight seasons. It was also the Greyhounds’ first loss versus a NVL opponent since 2015, although the game was officially a non-conference game.
The rematch of last year’s NVL championship game had just as much tension and drama. Three yellow cards and a red card were shown during the match, with both teams going all out at one another.
It was a scoreless battle in the first half. Austin Dickson put Watertown on top 18 minutes into the second half on a header out in front. Six minutes later Akinduro sent a header to the back of the net off a Barth corner kick to tie the game at 1-1.
Jack Champagne eventually got the better of a furious battle with Teixeira and managed to get off a shot that beat Brandon Sampaio (7 saves) to the post to put the Indians ahead for good. With two minutes to play, Moni Jusufi scored on a deflection off a defender for the 3-1 final margin.
“I don’t think we matched their energy and they just outplayed us especially in the second half,” Kinne said. “It was a good lesson to be learned and hopefully it will serve as a wakeup call.”
The Greyhounds had a week off after the Watertown game. Naugatuck will face Sacred Heart on Friday and Joel Barlow on Saturday.