2020 East Haven Sports Year in Review
Senior captain Alexis Pendziwater finished her career with East Haven girls’ hoops by helping the Yellowjackets get back to the SCC final this winter. East Haven made it as far as the Class MM state quarterfinals before the rest of the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Alec DiVito and the Yellowjackets put together an outstanding season on the wrestling mat. DiVito claimed first place in the 132-pound division at the Class M State Championship for East Haven. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Kisha Francois had an excellent junior year with the East Haven girls’ indoor track squad, taking first place on the long jump at the SCC West Sectional Championship and the Class M State Championship. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Tori Heaphy guided the East Haven girls’ volleyball team to an appearance in the SCC Division C final this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Isabella Pilato and the East Haven girls’ soccer squad had a nice fall season that featured a victory in the SCC Division B Tournament. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
There were several East Haven teams that took the next step in 2020. The East Haven wrestling team had a landmark campaign during the winter, while the boys’ soccer squad was one of the clubs that made a name for itself in the fall. Girls’ hoops also had another big year. Let’s take a look back at the highlights of the year in East Haven sports.
The majority of East Haven sports were completed before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 winter season. Unfortunately, the girls’ basketball team never got a chance to play its quarterfinal game in the Class MM State Tournament. Still, the Yelllowjackets enjoyed a prosperous season, as did several other Easties’ teams this winter.
The East Haven girls’ basketball squad put together a great campaign that saw the team finish with an overall record of 18-8, while advancing to the SCC Tournament final and the Class MM State Tournament quarterfinals.
The Yellowjackets posted a regular-season record of 13-7 that included a mark of 7-1 in the SCC Hammonasset Division to win the title. In the SCC Tournament, Head Coach Anthony Russell’s club defeated Guilford (39-29), Lyman Hall (48-27), and Hand (49-35) to advance to its second-straight conference final, where East Haven took a 40-36 defeat against Hamden in a rematch of last year’s final.
East Haven went on to earn victories over Capital Prep (49-37) and East Catholic (55-50) in the first two round of the Class MM State Tournament. The Yellowjackets were scheduled to face Sheehan in the quarterfinals, but the tournament was canceled.
Alexis Pendziwater and Bella Ragaini led East Haven as the team’s senior captains. Pendziwater earned All-SCC First Team honors, while Ragaini was an All-SCC Second Team selection. Junior Taylor Salato garnered All-SCC First Team accolades and also made the All-State Class MM Team.
The Yellowjackets’ boys’ basketball team posted a record of 4-16 on the year. Shane Franklin served as a senior captain for Head Coach Ricky Narracci’s squad.
The East Haven wrestling team finished the regular season with a mark of 18-6, followed by a second-place finish at the SCC Championship and a fifth-place finish at the Class M State Championship.
Junior Dominic Milano took first place in the 106-pound division at SCC Championship, where senior Alec DiVito (132), senior Tanner DiVito (138), junior Matt DiVito (126), and junior Gunner Horton (220) claimed second place in their respective weight classes. Alec DiVito went on to finish first in the 132-pound division at the Class M State Championship, while Tanner DiVito took first place for the 138-pound division. Alec DiVito, Tanner DiVito, and Matt DiVito served alongside fellow senior Fabricio Bugatti as the captains for Head Coach Mark Tolla’s squad.
Sophomore Zavuri Castaneda competed for East Haven at the inaugural Girls’ Wrestling Invitational. Castaneda earned a first-place finish in the 235-pound division at the meet.
The East Haven girls’ indoor track team posted a second-place finish at the SCC West Sectional Championship, an eighth-place performance in the SCC Championship, and then finished in 11th place at the Class M State Championship.
Junior Kisha Francois won the long jump at the sectional meet, finished second at the SCC meet, and then came in first place at the Class M meet. Francois also finished second in the 55-meter dash at sectionals, SCCs, and states. Sophomore Morgan D’Auria took first place in the pole vault at the West Sectional meet on behalf of Head Coach Rusty Dunne’s club.
The East Haven boys’ indoor track squad came in seventh place at the SCC West Sectional Championship, finished 15th at the SCC Championship, and then sent a few athletes to compete at the Class M State Championship.
Senior Ian Loehmann took second place in the high jump at the 55-meter hurdles for the Yellowjackets at sectionals.
Athletes from East Haven, Guilford, North Haven, and North Branford joined forces to from the Greater New Haven (GNH) Warriors boys’ swimming and diving squad. The Warriors had an excellent campaign that saw Head Coach Martha Phelan’s team post a record of 8-2, win the SCC Division 2 title, and finish fifth at the SCC Championship. GNH would have competed at the Class LL State Championship, but the meet was canceled.
Sophomore Hethon Foster, sophomore Pavlo Melnyk, and freshman Dylan Sobolewski were the East Haven students that competed for the team. Foster took second place in the 100 freestyle at the SCC Championship, in addition to swimming on a victorious 400 freestyle relay and a second-place 200 freestyle relay in the meet.
The East Haven co-op boys’ ice hockey team finished with a record of 8-14 and qualified for states for the 34th-consecutive season. The Yellowjackets also qualified for their Conference Tournament.
East Haven took a 7-0 loss to Branford in the SCC/SWC Division II Tournament. In the Division II State Tournament, the Yellowjackets lost a 6-2 decision to Farmington Valley.
The Yellowjackets, who featured players from East Haven, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, East Hampton, Morgan, and Valley Regional, were led by senior captains Alec Speirs and goalie Logan Hamilton, along with junior captains Rocco Plano and Dave Amatruda. Hamilton was named to the All-SCC First Team and made the All-State Second Team on behalf of Head Coach Lou Pane’s squad.
The Branford-North Branford-East Haven girls’ ice hockey team finished with a record of 4-14-2. Goalkeeper Christina Meadows garnered All-SCC accolades for Head Coach Jack Norton’s club.
The East Haven cheerleading team finished in eighth place at the SCC Championship. The Yellowjackets went on to record a 10th-place performance in the Class M State Championship.
The East Haven pom-pom team competed at the state’s Dance Championship. The Yellowjackets finished in 11th place in the Pom Division. Senior Arianna Zambrano was the senior captain for Head Coach Megan Butler’s squad.
All spring sports across Connecticut were canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. East Haven’s baseball, softball, tennis, outdoor track, and golf teams were unable to compete as a result.
East Haven athletes had a chance to play baseball in the Connecticut Elite Baseball Association (CEBA) this summer.
East Haven fielded a U-19 team in the CEBA. The team posted a regular-season record of 6-12 in the Division II standings, then won two games in the Division II Tournament, finishing the year with an overall mark of 8-13.
East Haven faced North Haven in the play-in round of the CEBA Division II Tournament. Jake Marquardt pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts to lead the club to a 2-1 victory.
East Haven went on to face Orange in the quarterfinal round of the tourney. Gianni Mumford tossed 6.2 innings with 13 strikeouts as East Haven prevailed by a 4-1 score. East Haven then took a 10-0 loss against Hamden in the semifinals. Kevin Sabin and Rich Marquardt were East Haven’s co-head coaches.
After all of the delays and with various restrictions in place, the Yellowjackets hit the field to compete during the fall of 2020. East Haven saw plenty of success throughout the season, including a few notable victories come playoff time.
The East Haven girls’ volleyball team posted a record of 7-7 while advancing to the championship match of the Southern Connecticut Conference Division C Tournament. East Haven earned a 3-2 victory versus Hand in the semifinals before taking a 3-0 loss to Guilford in the title match.
Outside hitters Carly Cordova and Tori Heaphy served as the Easties’ captains. Cordova, Heaphy, and senior middle blocker Taylor Salato earned All-SCC Division C honors on behalf of Head Coach Craig Brown’s squad.
The East Haven girls’ soccer team netted a record of 5-5-2 and earned a postseason victory during the fall campaign.
The Yellowjackets earned a 4-1 win against Wilbur Cross in the first round of the SCC Division B Tournament. East Haven went on to take a 4-0 loss to Guilford in the semifinals.
Defender Aimee DiVerniero, midfielder Isabella Pilato, and goalkeeper Angelina Munoz were the senior captains for Head Coach Jake Hackett’s squad. Pilato and Munoz were named to the All-SCC Division B Team, while Pilato also made the All-State Class L Team. Junior forward Emily Pycela earned All-SCC Division B honors. Hackett was selected as the SCC Division B Coach of the Year.
The East Haven boys’ soccer team took a big step forward by finishing with a record of 4-6 and earning its first conference victory since 2015. The Yellowjackets competed in the SCC Division B Tournament, where the team took a loss to Guilford.
Senior forward Luis Agudelo and senior defender Victor Calvillo garnered All-SCC Division B accolades for the Easties. Defender Mat Torres and goalkeeper Asa Myers led Head Coach Mike Papantonio’s team as the senior captains.
The East Haven-Wilbur Cross (EH-WC) girls’ swimming and diving team competed in virtual meets during the 2020 season. The Yellowjackets finished their season by participating in the SCC Virtual Championship, where they finished in fifth place for the Division II standings and 11th in the conference overall.
Junior Norah Rome claimed first place in the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle at the SCC Division II Championship. Rome posted a time of 1:55.57 in the 200 freestyle to finish first in the division and third for the SCC. In the 500 freestyle, Rome finished with a 5:05.58 to take first place in Division II and second in the SCC.
Sophomore Julia Rosado finished first in the 100 backstroke and took second in the 50 freestyle at the divisional championship. The Yellowjackets’ 400 freestyle relay of senior captain JJ Jim, freshman Kim Kate, Rosado, and Rome also took first place in Division II.
EH-WC’s 200 medley relay of Rosado, senior captain Alora McCarroll, Kim, and Rome finished third in the division. Kim finished second in the division in the 100 butterfly and placed fourth in the 200 individual medley.
The East Haven girls’ cross country team was represented by several runners at the SCC’s postseason meet. This year, the SCC held four divisional meets and then merged the performances from those meets together to also form the standings for the conference.
Junior Juliana Espinoza led the way for the Yellowjackets by finishing in 20th place for the Division A standings. Senior captains Erin Currin and Nicole Pendziwater finished in 23rd and 24th place, respectively.
The Yellowjackets’ boys’ cross country squad saw a few runners hit the trails to take part in the SCC’s postseason competition.
Senior captain Ian Reynolds led East Haven by finishing in 21st place for the SCC Division A Championship. Reynolds and fellow senior Jeff Maffeo were the senior captains for Head Coach Anthony Russell’s team.
Sports Editor Chris Piccirillo contributed to this story