By Cliff Nadel
NORTH HAVEN, Oct. 4 -- Under the lights at the North Haven Athletic Complex, North Haven High exploded out of the gates early and scored three quick goals in the first seven minutes of the game to beat another struggling side Amistad, 8-0.
At the start of the season, North Haven coach Reid Chieffo, replaced long-time coach Federico Fiondella, who coached the Indians for 16 years.
After a disappointing one-win effort in Fiondella's last season, Chieffo wanted to change the culture into one that saw a more attacking and exciting squad.
“We implemented a whole new system, different formation, a different style of play then what their used to, it’s a little bit more of an open offensive game,” Chieffo said, “so I think for players it’s a little bit more exciting to play as opposed to being very disciplined defensively.”
The Indians (2-6, 1-3 in league) struggled to get shots on goal and averaged only 3.7 shots on goal per game in their first seven games.
North Haven also averaged about 12.4 shots on goal allowed.
Since Chieffo has instituted a more attacking style of play, in the days leading up to their game against winless Amistad (0-7-1), the team worked on various attacking techniques while still also being conscious defensively.
North Haven played the exact opposite way one would expect a 1-6 team to play and dominated the possession game early on and throughout most of the game. The Indians looked energized in warmups and were excited to face a struggling Amistad squad.
Chieffo said after the game that his team was fired up to play against another struggling side.
“Since they're struggling I think the team gets a little bit more fired up, they're a little bit more aggressive and you want to see them come out like that against all teams,” he said.
North Haven started the game with constant offensive pressure and had a shot deflect off the post within the first minute of the game. Only a minute later the Indians set up a counter attack after intercepting an Amistad goal kick and sent several of their wide men and backs forward.
Freshman wide man Kasey Mongillo used his blistering pace to beat several Amistad defenders and received a cross, which left him one-on-one with the Amistad goalkeeper. Mongillo slightly hesitated and pulled the ball back for a second, before powering the ball with his right foot between the goalkeeper’s legs and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
A few minutes, North Haven continued its early offensive pressure and were given a direct set piece opportunity after they were fouled right outside the box. Sophomore striker Jose Rodriguez stepped confidently up to take the free kick and showed the crowd what hours and hours of free kick practice can yield.
“Everyone was distracted over there, so I just took the chance and just shot it,” Rodriguez said. He added that he practices his free kicks almost every day and shows up an hour early to practice so he can work on his technique.
Rodriguez struck the ball over the Amistad defense, scoring a goal into the top left corner of the goal.
Within a few minutes of Rodriguez’s free kick goal, North Haven again found itself deep in Amistad’s defensive half.
North Haven got several attackers in the box and peppered Amistad with shot after shot. After Amistad thought it cleared the ball, the team sent it right to Indians sophomore Kasper Skonieczny. Skonieczny controlled the attempted cleared ball right outside the box before striking the ball from outside the box into the top left corner of the goal.
The Indians got their fourth goal just before half time.
Skonieczny scored his second goal of the game in the second half along with three other goals.
North Haven looks to take their energy and momentum from this game and hopes to make a serious state playoffs push in the coming weeks, Cheiffo said.
North Haven’s next game is at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6 against Wilbur Cross.
Students in Quinnipiac University's JRN361: Sports Reporting course cover local high school sports competitions. Their work is showcased here.
Banner photo courtesy
Dana Jensen/The Day (2003)