Sports Person of the Week
Cienfuegos de Paz Has Passion for the Pitch
Eduardo Cienfuegos de Paz is producing plenty of points for the North Haven boys’ soccer squad this fall. He’s also leading the team as a senior co-captain. (Photo courtesy of Eduardo Cienfuegos de Paz )
Eduardo Cienfuegos de Paz started playing soccer as a five year-old while growing up in Spain. Eduardo and his family moved to the United States when he was 10, eventually settling in North Haven, where Eduardo became a senior captain and a major offensive contributor for the boys’ soccer squad.
Eduardo’s first soccer experience in the U.S. came as a member of the South Central Premier team. When he started high school, Eduardo signed up to play for North Haven as a freshman, in addition to competing for the town’s club league.
Eduardo was a varsity in training player during his freshman season, meaning that he played in J.V. games, while also suiting up for the varsity squad’s contests. Eduardo’s first year with North Haven was a big adjustment, but that season gave him an understanding of what was required to succeed at the varsity level.
“Obviously, it’s a big difference. I didn’t really develop that fast,” Eduardo says. “It’s a whole different experience, but you adapt and grow into the game. It helped me gain a lot of experience and meet a lot of people.”
Eduardo became a full-fledged member of North Haven’s varsity team in his sophomore year. He came off the bench for the first few games before earning a spot in the starting lineup.
Eduardo’s sophomore season was another period of growth for him, in terms of both size and skill. As he grew physically, Eduardo started to find his stride as a varsity player.
Last year, North Haven had just six seniors on its roster, and so Eduardo and his fellow juniors had a chance to become difference makers for the squad. Eduardo saw time at both forward and center attacking midfielder as a junior, establishing himself as a focal point of North Haven’s offense.
“The juniors had a lot of opportunities to grow into players who were going to make a difference on this team. Luckily, I was one of those players that had that opportunity,” says Eduardo. “Everything is a learning process. Your body and your mind changes as you become older and you adjust. I was able to develop into a decisive player on the team.”
Now a senior, Eduardo continues to hold a key offensive role for North Haven and is leading the team in both assists and total points on the season. Eduardo was also named a captain alongside fellow senior Justin Falasco for the 2020 campaign. It means a lot to Eduardo that he rose up from his humble beginnings as a freshman to earn a seat in the captain’s chair.
“I started from the bottom. I started from JV, watching the older players play,” Eduardo says. “By being captain, I’m not only able to lead the varsity team on the field, but off the field. I can share my experiences with them, as well as the JV players coming in. I can help lead and get them integrated with the team.”
Head Coach Reid Chieffo has been a firsthand witness to Eduardo’s progression on the pitch throughout the past few years. Chieffo says that even though Eduardo has all the necessary technical skills to put up points, he’s always looking to make his teammates better and do whatever it takes to help North Haven prevail.
“He’s very unselfish. He reads the game well. When it’s his chance to take a shot and score, he does it, but he is also always looking for his teammates in a better position to get a higher-percentage shot,” says Chieffo of Eduardo. “Over the course of a season, he just gets better, and the goals and assists keep mounting. Every game, he is the player to look for.”
Eduardo plans on majoring in environmental engineering in college and is hoping to attend Northwestern University. He also wants to continue playing soccer at either the club or intramural level.
As he enters the home stretch of high school career, Eduardo feels pleased that he’s making big contributions for a North Haven team that’s in the midst of a solid season. Eduardo has loved soccer for a long time, and his passion for the sport has only grown through all of the great relationships that he’s made in North Haven.
“I love the sport. I watch it, I play it, I listen to it, I cheer for it. I watch everything—Premier League, La Liga. Any league that you can think of, I probably watch it. Soccer is the sport I love,” Eduardo says. “I dedicate a lot of time to soccer, not only on the field, but off the field. That sense of commitment, that sense of community that soccer brings is a very beautiful thing.”