TORRINGTON — On a night when even a passing shower was too intimidated to stick around long at the Robert H. Frost Sports Complex, Naugatuck’s Lucas Silva saw the one clear shot against Torrington 10 minutes into a fierce standoff between two of the best teams in the NVL.
“I saw (Torrington goalie Wilson Penaranda) standing in the middle of the goal by himself. I saw the space and I put it in,” said Silva, who got through what Torrington coach Mike Fritch called “a defensive breakdown” for his shot into the lower right corner of the net.
The 1-0 score held up until the final horn of a game that might have looked familiar to European soccer fans among the big crowd on hand to see Torrington (3-1) against the archrival Greyhounds (4-1; 4-0 NVL) — the ball whipping up and down the field at a lightning pace; sturdy defenses ready to greet the charge; and foot skills leaving players tangled for seconds on end.
“They had an opportunity and capitalized. We had several and didn’t,” Torrington coach Mike Fritch said. “That’s the kind of game we want; we’d love to see them again.”
“That’s an athletic team over there,” Naugatuck coach Ryan Kinne said. “We wouldn’t be surprised to see them later on (in the league tournament).”
The Greyhounds live up to their nickname every year as one of the fastest teams in the league. That, plus an edge in size, gave Naugatuck a first-half edge in pressure and shots (8-3).
But every year, the Red Raiders elevate their own game to the kind of contest it was Monday evening.
“We grew into the game,” Fritch said, explaining the second half’s 4-4 draw in shots.
Last year’s starting Raider goalie, Kevin Hidrovo (8 saves), entered the game 18 minutes in, solidifying the Raider defense with some athletic saves.
Naugatauck keeper David Greed (7 saves) is one of the biggest players on the field — unwilling to let anything past him, even when Fritch saw scoring opportunities.
Both teams had free kicks that went nowhere in the scrambling crowd waiting at the goal, corner kicks that met the same reception.
“Everybody played good,” said Silva.
“We’d like to play this team every game,” said Fritch, whose Raiders outscored its first three opponents 22-4.