North Haven Boys’ Soccer Embraced its Opportunity to Play
Senior captain forward Eduardo Cienfuegos de Paz (left) had five goals and seven assists on his way to garnering All-SCC Division A accolades for the North Haven boys’ soccer squad this fall. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Justin Falasco (right) covered a wide swath of the field at the center midfield position for the North Haven boys’ soccer team during the 2020 season. Pictured in the background is No. 20, senior Tanner Powell. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Kasey Mongillo (middle) earned All-Division honors as a forward after scoring five goals for North Haven this year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Senior Luke Franco and his teammates stayed strong through multiple cancellations and a week-long delay to finish the 2020 season with their complete team on the sidelines. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
The 2020 fall season was anything but your typical campaign, but North Haven boys’ soccer Head Coach Reid Chieffo sure is glad that it happened.
North Haven recently completed a season that saw the team post an overall record of 4-5-1. North Haven had three regular-season games get canceled when sports were temporarily shut down following a positive COVID-19 case at the high school, but Coach Chieffo’s club was still able to finish the year by participating in the playoffs with its full roster.
In the end, Chieffo appreciated every minute that he spent with his players on the pitch, and the coach knows that those feelings are mutual.
“With everything going on, it puts it in perspective, and you really appreciate it when you have it almost taken away,” Chieffo said. “You appreciate practicing and getting on the field to compete in a game. As an athlete, that is what you work for. It was gratifying for our seniors to get out there in their last year and compete.”
While there were no state tournaments this fall, the Southern Connecticut Conference hosted a postseason that included three divisional tournaments for the teams in its league. North Haven competed in the SCC Division A Tournament as the No. 3 seed and took a 5-2 loss against No. 2 seed Cheshire in the semifinal round on Nov. 12.
North Haven had previously taken a 5-2 defeat against Cheshire during the regular season. However, Coach Chieffo said that the rematch in SCCs was a much-more competitive contest, and that his team showed just how much it had improved since the start of the season with its performance in that matchup.
“Cheshire was the better team, but we fought hard, and I was proud of the way they fought to the end of game. They held their heads high after the game,” said Chieffo. “We told them that we wanted to be competitive, go after it, and compete to the last whistle, and I felt they did that. We had a lot of chances to score, and it should have been a closer game, but they showed their improvement by their play in that game.”
During the regular season, North Haven earned a 4-0 win versus Sheehan, a 2-1 victory over Lyman Hall, a pair of wins against Whitney Tech (6-0 and 7-0), and also played Hamden to a 3-3 tie. Coach Chieffo called North Haven’s 2-1 triumph versus Lyman Hall his team’s biggest win of the season.
“We were able to score two goals, but more importantly, we only gave up one goal, and our defense was really strong in that game,” Chieffo said. “If I had to hang my hat on one game, that’s the game. Lyman Hall is a good team, and we had a good result against them. We limited their scoring opportunities and capitalized on two chances that we had. That was the biggest game for us.”
North Haven featured a large class of 10 seniors who were all key contributors this season. North Haven’s senior captains were forward Eduardo Cienfuegos de Paz and center midfielder Justin Falasco. Cienfuegos de Paz scored five goals and had seven assists on his way to making the All-SCC Division A Team.
“Eduardo is a very complete player all-around. He can play any position. With his number of assists, he makes everyone around him better. He’s unselfish,” said Chieffo. “Eduardo was also a team captain and, in the classroom, he’s off the charts. He leads by example in the classroom and on the field. He’s unselfish, humble, and hardworking.”
Coach Chieffo also had high praise for captain Falasco, who patrolled all ends of the pitch from the center midfielder’s position.
“Justin is a very hardworking kid on and off the field. He has a high work rate and practices like he plays. He gives a great effort in practice, and it shows on the field,” Chieffo said. “Justin is just a hardworking kid at center midfielder. He covers the whole field and is a smart and unselfish player.”
Senior forward Kasey Mongillo joined Cienfuegos de Paz as an All-SCC Division A selection. Mongillo recorded five goals and two assists for Coach Chieffo’s club.
“Kasey is a physical specimen. He’s fast, adds a lot of physical play up front, and relieves a lot of pressure with how he chases down the ball and is physical on both sides of the ball,” said Chieffo. “Kasey is a gamer who plays hard and gives the other team fits, because he’s so big, physical, and fast.”
North Haven saw two seniors hold down the fort at the goalkeeper position this year. North Haven’s goalies were Rafe Lawless and Matt Casey, who both saw their fair share of time in net.
“Matt and Rafe were really competitive with each other throughout the year. They both worked hard,” Coach Chieffo said. “They probably played half and half, so we were fortunate to have two goalies who were able to start games and push each other and compete with each other. It was a nice situation to have.”
North Haven’s goalies were supported by a defense that featured several seniors. Robert Vaughan and Tanner Powell were center backs for North Haven, while fellow senior Raymond Lewis suited up at the outside back position.
“Tanner and Robert just got better in the center as the season went on. Just how they battled in our last game of the season showed that they are both tough kids and have a good attitude. When they going got tough, they didn’t give up. They worked hard,” said Chieffo. “Ray was an outside back who has good speed and height and is also a physical player.”
There were two other seniors on North Haven’s roster this year. Those athletes are Luke Franco and Tyman McFadden, who each played outside midfielder with McFadden also seeing some time at outside back.
“Luke is a very fast, physical player on the outside. He’s just a hard worker on both offense and defense who covered a lot of ground,” Chieffo said. “Tyman didn’t play much last year, but stepped up and started almost every game this year and had a strong year. He provided some leadership and has good outside speed.”
North Haven also saw several underclassmen contribute throughout the 2020 season. North Haven’s junior corps featured starting center midfielders Jack Pollard and Zion Teclechiel, starting outside back Donovan Luna, along with forwards Derek Mortali and Domenico Sposito, outside midfielder Michael Brandt, outside back Philip Skonieczny, and center back Jonathan Paige. Sophomore Bryan Fernandes saw time at the midfielder position for North Haven.
Coach Chieffo finished his fourth year as North Haven’s head coach with assistance from John Parisella and RJ Notaro, the latter who is also the JV coach.
As Chieffo looks toward next year, he’s hoping for his athletes to put in a good amount of offseason work, so they’ll be ready to ascend to the next tier in 2021.
“We have a lot of offseason work to do to be bigger and stronger. They have to play as much as possible at a high level, whether within the town or at the Premier level,” said Chieffo. “To win championships, it starts with defense, and that is what the message will be in the offseason—to work on being tougher on defense, win balls, and be competitive.”